Monday, December 02, 2013

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Thanks, Donita Thomas. Your reflection is just like you're talking to me and I want to rush right out and buy this book! 

Frost, R. L. (1978). Stopping by woods on a snowy evening.  New York: Dutton’s  Children’s Books.
Genre: Poetry
Age Level: Any
I delighted in my good fortune the other day when I discovered "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers, for sale in the office at my school. A book company always brings in a display of books and gifts during the Christmas season.  I often find a few unusual gifts for my daughter Abbie, as well as my nieces and nephews among the books and goodies.
Although this book wasn't displayed especially well, its cover caught my eye...a frosty vellum with the title over an incredible illustration of a snow covered tree and a one-horse sleigh in the corner with a driver who just might be Santa. Aha! Santa! Now I get why Robert Frost was always one of my favorite poets, and this one of my favorite poems as a child—it’s about Santa!
Susan Jeffers is an incomparable artist who also illustrated the ABBY Award-winning "Brother Eagle, Sister Sky", a New York Times best seller. With "Stopping through the Woods on a Snowy Evening" she brings a fresh eye to an old favorite that will endear it to a new generation...and a much younger generation than has ever before discovered Robert Frost.
I can just see Abbie and I snuggling up to read it together. Abbie is a strong reader in the fifth grade, so she will know all of words.  She could read it herself, but it’s so much fun for her to listen to Mom read it to her, and we will all delight in the illustrations that bring the poem to life. Each page has only a line or two, which makes this, book a joy for early readers.
And again, the driver of the sleigh looks like Santa. He has the beard and the little round belly, although he is dressed in clothes Santa might wear on his day off. That will give us something to talk about. Kids will also enjoy finding the animals hidden in the woods. Some are as white as the snow and will challenge them a bit. Others, like the birds in the tree near the end, are brilliantly colored.
The artist writes the very last page. She shares with us her inspiration for this beautiful book. She writes about record snowstorms she saw the winter she drew the pictures and closes her page with "How fortunate for me." I think it’s fortunate for us to get to enjoy this wonderful poem as a picture book!
Poetry has meaning which is an underlying idea, feeling or mood conveyed through its words.  Does the poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening have a hidden meaning? In my introduction, I joke that the poem is in fact being narrated by Santa as he stops by to admire the woods for a short rest before a long night of delivering presents to good little boys and girls all over the world.  Obviously the book’s illustrator, Susan Jeffers picks up on this as well because she shows the sleigh driver with white hair, a long white beard, and a round belly much like what Santa is described as having.  This makes an excellent point of conversation for the readers.
Not all poetry rhymes.  This poem does, however, rhyme.  The term for rhyme is sound pattern. There are several types of sound patterns.  They type that this poem uses is consonance.  Consonance refers to the use of similar final consonant sounds as in know, though, queer, and near.  The rhyme pattern makes the poem flow nicely for both the reader and listener.

CCSS: RL.7-8.4, RL.7-8.5

Higher Order Thinking Questions:
      Does the illustrator, Susan Jeffers, seem to believe that the stranger is Santa? Explain your thinking.
      Do you believe that the stranger could be Santa? Explain.
      Describe how the poem makes you feel?

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