Florian, Douglas. Winter Eyes. Illustrated by Douglas Florian. New York: Greenwillow Books. 1999. ISBN 0688164587
Winter Eyes is a collection of winter themed poems written and illustrated by Douglas Florian. These lighthearted and easy-to-read poems range from the fun of ice skating to the frustration that is cabin fever. These poems would work well for a younger audience, just getting used to reading alone. While there are a couple of possibly challenging words, mainly colors like cobalt or umber, there are plenty of pictures to help a reader along.
Florian doesn’t give one image of winter, but instead shows many sides to the season and lets the reader pick his favorite. “Figure 8”, “Sled”, and “Two Snowflakes” also have the distinction of being poems that move on the page rather than having a standard form. All of the poems have a rhyme scheme. Usually the rhymes are in couplets, though some are in four line phrases.
One extremely entertaining thing to do with new poets, or anyone, would be to encourage them to read “What I Love About Winter” and “What I Hate About Winter,” then write their own version. For example, I would put Christmas, Christmas carols, Christmas ornaments, and seeing my family under What I Love. I would put the cold, sleet, snow, ice, and lack of sun under What I Hate. I’m sure if I sat here long enough I could make a poem, but that is getting off track.
While I said it would be good for new readers, it would also be an easy read for people reluctant to read poetry. Florian doesn’t ask the reader to dive deep or interpret, rather he invites the reader to have fun in the snow. This simplicity may appeal far more than an “in-depth” poet where the reader feels like he is supposed to be looking for hidden meaning.
No summer haze.
No autumn mist.
The winter air
Is clean and crisp.
And when the moon
And stars appear,
They somehow seem
To be more near.
Big Dipper’s bright
Upon this wondrous
This poem has the added bonus of lending itself to a science class. Not only are haze and mist both weather related phenomena, but due to the mention of Orion and the Big Dipper, this poem could be used to start a discussion of the winter constellations.
Bulletin Blue Ribbon
Kirkus Review–“Winter-lovers and winter-haters alike will find poems that strike chords, in a collection that is perfect for reading alone by the fire, or as part of snug storytimes.”
Kirkus Review. October 1, 1999. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/douglas-florian/winter-eyes-2/