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