PPBF: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Written by Robert Frost and illustrated by Susan Jeffers
Dutton Children’s Books, $16.99, Ages 3 and up

2014 nov 007For many of us in New England, early November brought the first snowfall of the season. A wind-whipped, blustery Nor’easter took down power lines and whipped dry autumn leaves into frenzied, frosted piles. Just a brief preview of the weather headed our way! For a gentler, wonder-filled exploration of winter delights, pick up this beautifully illustrated excerpt from the classic poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.

A farmer, bearded and wearing heavy cold-weather garb, greets his barn animals and loads his sleigh. Through the snowy countryside he glides, passing foxes, owls, and rabbits. Pausing to “watch his woods fill up with snow,” he spontaneously flops down and creates a snow angel, much to the animals’ surprise, before leaving a gift of seeds and hay in the midst of the forest.2014 nov 006

Delicately etched downy snowflakes begin to fall, turning the woods “…lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep…”  The grateful animals, hidden among the snow-covered boughs, watch him cover his horse with a cozy blanket. He sleds away to a New England farmhouse where eager children await.

Author Robert Frost, four time Pulitzer Prize winner and Poet Laureate, was once a farmer in Derry, NH. By capturing images of rural New England in plainspoken verse, he became one of the most popular 20th century poets. Rare is the graduation speech that does not reference his most famous work, The Road Not Taken (“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I– / I took the one less traveled by”). This poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, was first published in 1923.

Illustrator Susan Jeffers brings Frost’s memorable words to life for children by including an abundance of creatures throughout the book’s pages. Bright pops of rich red, yellow, blue and green add warmth and dimension to the snowy, serene landscapes done in pencil, pen and ink. She masterfully captures a wintry scene in grey, white and brown tones, and shows the gusty movements of wind, the twirling dance of falling snowflakes, and soft, deep hush of a thick forest. Tucked into the snow are squirrels and deer, a silent audience for the narrator and his horse.
2014 nov 008This is a short book to read slowly and savor while snuggled inside on a snowy day. It is a lovely way to introduce young readers to a snippet of classic American poetry, and children will enjoy counting and naming all the animals. Also take note of the wide variety of native New England trees, plants and birds that are depicted with elegant but simple detail. This is an enchanting story that will surely grow richer with repeated readings.
Resources/ Activities

  • Go out and play in the snow! Look for animal tracks. Build a snowman.
  • In warmer climates, make some artificial snow and turn up the air conditioning. 🙂
  • Read more about Robert Frost in Natalie Bober’s picture book biography Papa Is a Poet

Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

Portions of this review appeared in the December-January edition of North Shore Children & Families.  Read your copy online here.


About Cathy Ballou Mealey

Children's book author, repped by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency. Wife, mother, daughter, sister, alumna, autism advocate, book reviewer. Reach me via email at cmealey@post.harvard.edu or Twitter @catballoumealey
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40 Responses to PPBF: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

  1. tinamcho says:

    What a nice review of this book! I like those illustrations. A perfect winter read!

  2. rnewman504 says:

    Wonderful review, Cathy! I’m going to echo Tina’s sentiment. “A perfect winter read.” The illustrations are lovely. The snowflakes on your page are also an added nice touch for this review. 🙂

  3. jama says:

    This looks exquisite! Must see it. Thanks for the lovely, thoughtful review. 🙂

  4. What a beautiful share for the holiday and winter season. This is one of those gems you purchase and keep on your shelves. It looks like a quiet book to sit with and savor. Lovely selection and review.

  5. Oh this looks beautiful! We love Robert Frost and the illustrations look divine! It is rainy here in California, which I’m grateful for, but it certainly doesn’t feel like winter. Maybe if we read this book it will feel a little more wintery here. Thank you for the wonderful suggestion!

  6. I may just need to go out and purchase this one – gorgeous! Thanks for sharing, Cathy!

  7. This book looks perfectly charming. Thanks for telling me about it. I just ordered it up.

  8. Catherine Johnson says:

    Great review, Cathy! Those illustrations are divine!

  9. Jarm Del Boccio says:

    What beautiful illustrations, Cathy! And of course, Frost’s poem is always a winner. Gentle and thoughtful. Thanks for sharing this one!

  10. Joanna says:

    Gorgeous, Cathy, the perfect illustrations to this wonderful text.

  11. Cathy, Appreciations for sharing the frameable artwork of talented Susan Jeffers, paired with this beloved poem of Robert Frost. I have this same book but with a different cover, in black, red and white tones. Susan Jeffers is a generous person & her paintings are so lovely. The links are
    wondeful, too.

  12. Anastasia Suen says:

    Yes, this is a keeper! Thanks for sharing it!

  13. Sue Heavenrich says:

    I love this book – perfect for winter!

  14. This looks and sounds gorgeous. Perfect for Christmas.

  15. A lovely poem and a lovely book! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Sue Wang says:

    Such a beautiful book, both in words and art. It makes the cold in New England seem magical, in a delusional kind of way. Cuz when I lived there with the wintry snow I definitely wasn’t cozy checking out the flakes and co-existing with animals in the woods. Perhaps I should have been. This book is nostalgia for something that exist in a zen, peaceful realm, in a frozen time. A lovely treat. Thank you for offering this one!

    • Frost would be hard-pressed to recognize the Derry NH of today, filled with strip malls and gas stations. Makes it more special that Jeffers has captured the way it used to be so elegantly! The last time I saw a horse drawn sleigh was my uncle’s in far north Maine! Wishing you a season of light and peace Sue.

  17. Ah, the very first poem I was required to memorize for school.

    I remember it being so easy to remember because, even as a kid, I found Frost’s verse so perfect.

  18. Stopping By is just lovely. Nice post. =)

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