Jean Davies Okimoto

Winston of Churchill

2008 Winner of The Green Earth Book Award
Amazon Editors' Picks: 2007's Top Books for Kids
Amazon Canada Best 2007 Top 25 customer favourites

"The threatened polar bears of Churchill—as well as children everywhere—will be delighted by Okimoto's tale of Winston the bear's fight for ice."
- Stephen Hazell, Executive Director

"This book is a superb introduction to global warming, told in a way children will understand it, given their great interest in and love of animals."
- Dr. Brent Blackwelder, President

"Polar bears have become the totem of global warming. Winston is the polar bear who is going to become the totem of solving global warming. You'll love it."
- Carl Pope, Executive Director

"Its teaching kids that ultimately will change the way that we take care of this planet. Winston's story is an important first step in changing our mindset."
- Robert Buchanan, President

From the book:
"Winston of Churchill was a great white bear. Every year in the late fall and early winter, Winston and the other polar bears came to hunt from the ice of Hudson Bay near the town of Churchill, in the Canadian province of Manitoba."

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  • Raves for Winston!

    “Playful and informative, this has an urgent message that strikes home.”

    “Winston of Churchill is a brilliant book.”
    Quill & Quire

    “A charming children’s picturebook that addresses a serious modern issue.”
    Midwest Book Review

    “…delivering a polar bear version (and one eminently suitable for children) of the inconvenient truths about climate change…The important message here is eminently palatable and believable, thanks in equal parts to Okimoto's playful text and Trammell's enchanting illustrations."
    Globe and Mail

    “…the message is important…this picturebook should spark discussions among young readers.”
    School Library Journal

    “…this will be a welcome title in the classroom as well as in the home.”
    Ingram Library Services

    QUILL & QUIRE Jan. Issue

    Winston of Churchill is a brilliant book. Great fun to read and look at, it painlessly teaches children a number of important facts. With captivating wit, award-winning author Jean Davies Okimoto explores global warming, Manitoba geography, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the dangers of smoking.
    The plot is simple yet effective. Winston, a “fierce and brave bear,” writes a book to explain global warming, and distributes it to all the polar bears. He then galvanizes them, using some of his namesake’s famous rhetoric, into protesting human beings’ polluting habits with a peaceful march in front of the tourists. But first, he has to contend with his dissenting wife, who won’t wave a banner until he quits smoking cigars. Winston’s sacrifice perfectly exemplifies the encouraging motto on his sign, and the book’s chief theme, which is that we must all do our part, no matter how small.
    Okimoto’s prose often sparkles with a humour that operates on two levels. Children will love the bears’ refrain, “Ice is nice,” while adults will chuckle at allusive lines like, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” and the well-observed marital dialogue.
    Jeremiah Trammell’s illustrations perfectly complement the vivacious text. The polar bears are adorable yet fairly realistic. His compositions are beautifully varied – quite a feat for a story set in the snowy tundra of Churchill, and featuring a cast of white bears! Trammell also matches some of Okimoto’s humour, depicting a teenage bear adorned with green fur, a nose ring, tattoo, and big black leather bracelet.

    – Philippa Sheppard, a Toronto writer with a PhD in literature


    “The ice is melting. We are losing our home.” Near the town of Churchill in Manitoba, Canada, Winston, a great white polar bear, calls a meeting about global warming. The other bears listen as he tells them why “it’s getting hotter,” and they all join in a demonstration, carrying signs that read “Solar power,”
    “Recycle,” and more. Churchill even gives up his cigar. Of course, the picture-book audience won’t get the Churchill references (“We will fight them on the beaches...”), but adults can talk about the heroic leader and connect the World War II battles with the threat to our home now. Trammell’s wry illustrations make the huge, bespectacled leader seem both bear and human as he galvanizes his followers (and listeners), encouraging them to burn less gas, make less garbage, and plant more trees. Playful and informative, this has an urgent message that strikes home.

    — Hazel Rochman


    5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and motivational picturebook., December 3, 2007

    Winston of Churchill: One Bear's Battle Against Global Warming is a charming children's picturebook that addresses a serious modern social issue. Winston the polar bear of Churchill, Canada has observed that the earth is getting warmer due to human-generated pollution, and wants to mobilize his fellow bears to do something about it. "Burning gasoline in cars makes carbon dioxide. Methane gas comes from rotting garbage in landfills. Digging for oil and natural gas and mining coal lets out a gas called nitrous oxide. Too much of these gases is no good. But green plants turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, which is very good. People need to burn less gas, make less garbage, and plant more trees." However, Winston's wife notices that Winston himself contributes to global warming - by smoking a big, burning, smelly cigar! "'How can you convince people to stop doing what they're doing unless you can show that every little bit helps?' His wife glared at him. 'No cigar or I'm not going.'" Winston learns that the most persuasive way to advocate change is to change himself, and gives up his cigar to help convince humans to improve their world, in this thoughtful and motivational picturebook.


    Gr 1-3–Polar bear Winston lives in the town of Churchill, Manitoba, and is worried about the ice cap melting. He shares the book he has written about global warming with his fellow bears, who realize that they need people to help them save their habitat. Brave and fearless Winston mobilizes the others to march with picket signs in front of the tourists who have come to look at them. Sprinkled with quotes from Sir Winston Churchill, this book attempts to raise awareness of the effects of climate change. The quotes will be lost on children, and the cigar-chomping, glasses-wearing bear will not ring bells with most of them. However, the message is important, the book-within-a-book allows the author handily to present factual information, and the picket signs provide memorable visual bites: “Turn down the furnace”; “Make less garbage.” Trammell’s delicate illustrations are charming and friendly. This picture book should spark discussions among young readers.
    – Mary Hazelton, Elementary Schools in Warren & Waldoboro, ME

    INGRAM LIBRARY SERVICES January-February 2008 Volume VII, Issue 1

    Winston, a very savvy polar bear who is highly respected in his bear community of Churchill, Manitoba, has written a book to raise the alarm on global warming. He calls a meeting of the bears to rally their support for a “fight for ice,” all the while puffing on his big cigar. After his rousing speech, he cries, “Are you ready to march?” Only one lone voice answers “no.” Most embarrassingly, it's his wife, who points out that his cigar is a pollutant too and demands that he give it up.

    Meanwhile, at dawn the next day in Churchill, a crowd of tourists from all over the world sets off in a tundra buggy to see some polar bears, but none are to be found. Hugely disappointed, their grumbling begins to turn ugly when through a pair of binoculars one of them spies a crowd of bears carrying signs, lead by an imposing bespectacled bear who is chewing on a cigar-sized twig. The delighted tourists take loads of pictures of bears holding signs, which they take home to their friends, spreading the earth-friendly messages far and wide. Followed by some notes and reading recommendations, plus an explanation of the tie-in to Winston Churchill, this will be a welcome title in the classroom as well as in the home. For ages 6-8.
    - Norma Lilly, MLS

    THE GLOBE & MAIL February 8, 2008

    Winston, the bear of the title and "a fierce, brave bear," is alarmed because the ice is melting in polar bear territory on and around Hudson Bay, near Churchill, Man. He gathers his fellow bears together and exhorts them in much the same way that his namesake might.

    To a crowd of cheering bears, Winston booms: "We will fight for ice. ... We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. ...We shall never surrender."

    And fight he does, first by delivering a polar bear version (and one eminently suitable for children) of the inconvenient truths about climate change, and then by organizing a polar bear protest march to alert the tundra buggies of tourists that they need to wake up.

    The important message here is eminently palatable and believable, thanks in equal parts to Okimoto's playful text and Trammell's enchanting illustrations.