Book Review: Winter Eyes

Winter Eyes1. Bibliography

Florian, Douglas. 1999. Winter Eyes. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780688164584.

2. Plot Summary

In this collection of 28 poems and illustrations, readers explore both the wonders and woes of winter. From the joys of days spent sledding to the agony of days spent cooped up inside, Winter Eyes explores it all.

3. Critical Analysis

Douglas Florian’s poems have a natural rhythm and rhyme that roll off the tongue. Only occasionally do the rhyming lines feel forced, but rather add to flow of the poem. The poems can generally stand alone without their illustrations, with one notable exception: The shape poem “Sled” would not have the same effect without being shaped to the illustration of the children trudging up and sliding down the hill.

The personification in “The Winter Sun” perfectly captures the mood of a winter with long spells between seeing the sun at all. Just as people long to feel the sun’s warm rays during winter, the reader longs for the sun in the poem to escape the prison of his bed.

The most surprising part of reading Winter Eyes was the emotional response it stirred in me about winter. I personally do not like winter – I gratefully put up with scorching Texas summers in order to not have to deal with harsh winters. While I do not have personal experience with many of the activities and situations presented in Winter Eyes, the language and imagery of the poems created in me a sense of wonder and a desire to explore the winter described in them.

4. Review Excerpts

2002 – Garden State Children’s Book Awards (nominee)

From Booklist: “The short rhyming lines are clear and will be easy to read aloud, and the softly toned watercolor-and-colored-pencil pictures show snowy winter scenes, some realistic, some playful.”

From School Library Journal: “Winter Eyes does not address seasonal holidays and religious celebrations. The season itself is the celebration; it is alive and ever changing…. Quiet and reflective as the whispers of falling snowflakes and as jubilant as the whizzing of sleds, this book will be as welcome as a warm cup of cocoa after a long day of making snowmen and turning figure eights.”

5. Connections

-Read selected poems during a unit about the seasons

-For secondary writing students, have each student choose a poem and write a story inspired by the poem

(Created in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the TWU course LS5603.20 Literature for Children and Young Adults)

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