Mentor Text Monday: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear

Writing for Children Blog
January 25, 2016

I’m privileged to join Carrie Charley Brown in identifying stellar books that help us learn how to become better writers and illustrators!


What writers and illustrators can learn from Finding Winnie

How to…


 * build authentic nonfiction that leaps off the page.


 * incorporate sensory and lyrical language.


 * use repetition to infuse emotion into a nonfiction story.


 * create two story arcs through words and pictures.


 * create characters that will resonate with kids and adults.


* evoke discussion about history, the power of your choices and kindness.


Here’s my review that reveals more detail:

I wasn't surprised when Finding Winnie won the Caldecott Medal. It is a poignant, beautifully written true story with stunning illustrations.

This is the kind of nonfiction that will get kids thinking and wanting to write their own stories. Lindsay Mattick does an incredible job of writing a story within a story. Winnie's story is beautifully woven with Cole's questions to his mom as she tells him the story at bedtime. I was moved to tears at the end of the story when I realized that it was written by Harry Colbourn's great granddaughter. Here was a piece of her history that changed the world for the better!

This book incorporates sensory and lyrical language in a way that builds an authentic nonfiction story that leaps off the page. There's also a refrain that beautifully infuses emotion into the story:

His head said, "I shouldn't." His head said: "I can't." But his heart made up his mind.

I read this book to my five, seven, 10, 12, and 14-year-old and we all loved it. The story resonates with all ages.

I highly recommend this book! Don't walk, run to the library or bookstore and read this story that will evoke discussions about history, the power of one choice, and kindness!


Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear recently won the Caldecott Medal!


Happy Reading and Writing,




Kirsti Call is the co-coordinator of ReFoReMo or Reading for Research Month, a research challenge and blog focused on mentor texts for picture book writers. Her debut picture book, The Raindrop Who Couldn't Fall, came out December 2013 with Character Publishing. She contributes to Writer's Rumpus and is a CYBILS panelist.


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