Almost everyone knows of Winnie the Pooh, one of the most beloved bears of all time. However, almost no one knows that Winnie the Pooh was based on a true story—and a real bear.
Lindsay Mattick tells the story of the real Winnie, a bear that her great-grandfather bought and formed an unbreakable bond with, in her new picture book Finding Winnie. Her grandfather, Harry Colebourn, purchased the bear cub in 1914, and Winnie soon became the most famous bear in the army. However, soon Harry and Winnie’s story ended, and the story of Winnie and Christopher Robin began.
Mattick had been told this story her whole life, and feels like she’s always known it. “It’s been an absolute gift to be able to go around the world and share this story.” Even though Finding Winnie is a personal story, Mattick says that it would intrigue her just as much even if it weren’t.
Mattick has, not surprisingly, loved writing since she was a little kid. “Writing is about expressing yourself…it’s a really wonderful way to explore your own brain and your own heart.” So it’s not surprising that Mattick chose this story to write first. “Since I was [young ] I’ve been sharing this story, whether it’s a school presentation or a cocktail party. It just kind of resonates.” The idea to turn her grandfather’s story into a book first occurred to her when she was twenty-five, but it wasn’t until she was pregnant with her son Cole that the idea became a reality. Even then, it took her another year and a half to write the book. The wait was worth it, though; Finding Winnie has been a huge success, winning the Caldecott with the illustrations of Sophie Blackall.
With such success on her first book, Mattick is extremely excited about the possibilities it could open up. However, this success also sets a tall order. But Mattick isn’t planning on letting the pressure get to her. She’s already working on a YA version of Finding Winnie. “I want my writing career to take me on adventures.” With stories like Finding Winnie, it is sure to.