“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chaucer’s First Winter • Picture book

Chaucer’s First Winter
by Stephen Krensky illustrated by Henry Cole
Just out! Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Picture book Ages 2 – 6
Chaucer knows that bears are supposed to sleep through the winter. But it's much more fun to stay up and play.
Story:  Celebrate the joys of the season and friendship as Chaucer experiences his first snowball fights, sledding, skating, and all of the most exciting parts of winter.  The winter setting provides a natural lead into discussions about the seasons and hibernation, but can be used year-round in units and displays on bears and animals, relationships and families.
Story behind the story:  Stephen Krensky is the author of more than eighty books for children, including How Santa Got His Job (an ALA Notable Book) and Big Bad Wolves at School. He and his wife, Joan, live in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Henry Cole is an award-winning illustrator whose quirky, sensitive illustrations have graced more than two dozen picture books, including Jack's Garden, which he also wrote; And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell; The Sissy Duckling by Harvey Fierstein; and Moosetache and Bad Boys, both by Margie Palatini. He lives in Washington, DC.

Cole provides wonderful insight and behind-the-scene examples of his artistic process via his detail-, process- and version-ometers which show how he works to find just the right character, how he fine-tunes that character, and how small details can make a big difference in picture books.  

FYI:  all the review copies for this title have been sent; please check back and click on the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say. 


Tina's Blog said...

This looks like a great book! I am sad I missed getting a review copy but look forward to everyone's reviews.

Susan Appleton said...

Have any of these books been sent out? I sent an email asking for a copy, but haven't gotten one and I was wondering if anyone has?

Kim Watson said...

I, too, ordered a copy and have not received it.

Deborah Sloan said...

Just be patient folks. Sometimes it takes longer than others. Could be that the publisher didn't have books in their office and had to order from their warehouse; could be that the person who was receiving the review copy requests was out of the office or unable to turn things around quickly. But know that all of the publishers who have offered to send books do make good on their offers. And this book is worth waiting for!

Kim Watson said...

Thanks, Deborah! I'm new to the site. I thought maybe I had missed the opportunity to review this cute book. :)

Ann said...

i never received a copy of this book either, but Simon & Schuster sent me a proof of WE The Children, Book One by Andrew Clements. Signed. I don't see in on Picnic Basket so I won't be able to post the review here, but I assume picnic basket is the reason i received it. Anyone else get something from the publisher?

Cori said...

The book just arrived today and it is amazing. The story and graphics are great. Perfect for a elementary classroom read aloud.

Tina's Blog said...

Stephen Krensky's picture book Chaucer's First Winter has been an enjoyable and cute read aloud at our house. Chaucer, a young bear, decides not to hibernate for the winter. Instead he watches his parents fall asleep, and then leaves their cave to explore and experience a winter without a nap. Snowball fights, sledding down hills, ice skating (on his paws) and enjoying the beauty of snow and ice -everything winter- take up Chaucer's time. Eventually spring comes and while Chaucer is anxious to tell his parents about his adventures, hewill have to wait to do that until he catches up on some sleep.

My own children loved this book. It would be a great companion read aloud with Karma Wilson's Bear Stays Up, which provides rhyming text about a bear who tries to stay up for Christmas, despite how tired he is and how he wants to fall asleep.

I have already ordered this for my school library and know that my students will love hearing this story during the unit we do on snow and winter.
Picnic Basket Rating - 4.5/5

Heather Hill said...

"Chaucer's First Winter" is a very cute book about a bear, Chaucer, who decides to stay up all winter with his friends instead of hibernating. He makes it through the winter and falls asleep at the first signs of spring.

This book reminded me a lot of the Karma Wilson series, but does not rhyme like those books. I think the book will still be enjoyable to early elementary students. Some of the vocabulary will need to be introduced, like "convinced" and "disguise". Students will love the large, expressive illustrations. Students will also probably grow to love Chaucer if there are more stories and adventures to come.

I give this book a 4 out of 5.

Heather Hill, Reading Specialist
Enterprise Elementary
Woodbridge, VA

Mrs. Horne said...

This book is adorable...such a cute little story about Chaucer, a bear and his friends and how they make it though the winter. Immediately, my son opened this book and fell in love and he is not quite two. The illustrations are just beautiful and really 'tell the story.' I would highly recommend this picture book to Pre-K or elementary level teachers...

Rating: 5/5

Lindsay Horne
New Kent Middle School
New Kent, VA

Barbara said...

A cute story to read aloud and there are lots of details a young child will notice. I liked the way Chaucer's parents seemed to let him go out alone...and yet kept a watchful eye on his winter's progress.

Rating: 4/5

M. Battista said...

What a sweet and charming read. I particularly like the illustrations. I can't resist an ice skating squirrel! I can't wait to share this with our students. They are sure to love Chaucer too. Picnic Rating-4.

Denair Elementary School
Denair, CA

W. Stangel said...

The illustrations for Chaucer's First Winter are adorable. The scale of the illustrations work well for a read-aloud. I used this book with kindergarten as they began learning about 'winter'. It's always nice to have primary books on the seasons. This was a nice, simple story that was attractively illustrated. I rate it a 4 out of 5.

Monica said...

I used this book as a read aloud with my first grade students. We were able to make connections due to the recent surprise snow that happened over Christmas break (some of my students' "first" snow). The students shared slipping on the ice like Chaucer, sticking their tongues out to catch snowflakes, and discovering icicles. My students discussed "sparkle" words like: snooze, prodded, glittering, etc. The colorful illustrations are delightful and help tell the story which supports my ESL and struggling readers. A perfect addition to our reading library. A picnic basket rating of 4 of out of 5.

ahslibrarian said...

When snow is in the air and bed time approaches one must pull out Chaucer’s First Winter. Actually, either will do, but both really help to set the mood for the book. Buy the book for your school, friends, children, and grandchildren.

The story is superb. The characters are adorably predictable for children, and that counts for me too. Everything is as it should be. The illustrations are simple, but not too detailed for a dreamy winter. Above all, the book succeeds as a read-aloud bedtime book. While it is most appropriate for those under five years of age, older readers may also enjoy it on their own.

Simply put, the book works for me. We have bears, it’s winter, and school was just dismissed for the remainder of the week due to snow. I guess it’s time to hibernate, but before I do I want to play. Hurry out and get several copies of Chaucer’s First Winter while you can.

5 out of 5

John Parker
Media Coordinator
Andrews High School
50 HS Drive
Andrews, NC 28901

A. Hunt said...

My copy of Chaucer's First Winter just arrived and it is absolute delight. Like many reviewers previously stated, this is a great bedtime book for the wee ones. It is loving and comforting plus it is nice to see that the mama and papa bear continue to watch over their baby as he discovers winter.

From a middle school teacher perspective it can be used to show varied sentence structure and strong verbs. That is a great check in my book! The use of the name of Chaucer is also a wonderful touch.

Bravo on a delightful book.

4 out of 5

Allyn Hunt
8th Grade Language Arts Teacher
Fort Walton Beach, FL

Lemon the Duck said...

A curious little bear takes us through this story of discovery. Chaucer's experience is one that children can easily connect to---not only the winter fun, but the thrill of staying up past one's bedtime!
I liked how his parents looked exhausted (as many do at the end of the day or "season") yet, allowed their child to explore, while keeping a watchful eye on him.
The illustrations were soft, with just the right amount of detail for young children. The "older children" in the book were positive role models and helped guide Chaucer on his path of discovery. I think this is a great book about friendship that is sure to be a hit with children.
I rate this book a 4 out of 5 for early childhood.
Laura Backman
Hathaway School

janew said...

A charming book with a curious main character. Could be an effective partner in a nonfiction-fantasy pair.

Ms. Armstrong said...

I read this book to the preschool and preK classes at my school. They enjoyed the story and liked seeing Chaucer's parents peeking around corners to see what he was up to. It was a good way to introduce/reinforce the concept of hibernation. Thanks!

I give it a 4 out of 5.

Kristen Armstrong
The Swain School

SunshineFamily said...

This is a very cute book. It would be nice in a preschool setting. However, I would have liked more originality whether through the language, illustrations or story line. Had I not received this as a reviewer's copy, I am not sure I would have purchased it. I will not spend this review listing the several books out there which are just as cute and engaging for children but I will say that when I read this for the first time, I felt that I had read it many times before.

IT is a fine book but not something that stands out and for that reason I give it a 3/5 on the Picnic Book Scale

Lisa Kennedy said...

Oh what a mischievous little bear! Who hasn't dealt with their own little bear who would prefer playing and adventure to bedtime. Although the parents kept an eye on Chaucer as I read this book to young students I must always remind them that they should listen to their parents and go to bed rather than playing in their rooms. It is a great book for discussing fact vs. fiction. Our students are loving Chaucer's First Winter! 4 out of 5

Megan B. said...

I know it's March and I'm late to the reviewing game (although it did snow where I am this last weeked), I just received this today. I had actually forgotten about it, so it was a very nice surprise.

I loved it! I loved the illustrations and the simplicity of the text. This is mostl likely my favorite of the picture books I have received from The Picnic Basket.