Stephen Krensky - Chaucer's First Winter

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Chaucer's First Winter Is Best When Paired With the Bear

Nov 28, 2009 (Updated Nov 28, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:goes well with the bear, cute pictures

Cons:similar to other books, bear is hard to come by now

The Bottom Line: Cuddle up with Chaucer and read about his winter.


For several years, I worked at Borders Express during the Christmas season, and I was always anxious to see what the annual exclusive Christmas bear would look like. My favorite was 2004’s Booker, which came complete with an adorable pair of Harry Potter-style spectacles. I also loved the polar bear released a couple of years ago, and though I’m not working there this year, I’m tempted to drop by and pick up the panda I spotted there last week. The Borders bear for 2008 had the very fitting name of Chaucer, and his scarf, which was covered with letters, accentuated his ties to literacy. Even more impressively, he had a book all to himself: Chaucer’s First Winter, written by Stephen Krensky and illustrated by Henry Cole.

In the book, Chaucer is a young bear determined not to sleep through winter. The story, written in prose, is a simple one, the basic gist of which has been explored several times before. It particularly reminds me of Froggy’s Best Christmas. A young animal who should be hibernating decides instead to get the most out of winter and packs in as much fun as he can before falling asleep. Chaucer doesn’t have to enjoy the holiday alone; his friends Nugget and Kit, a squirrel and a fox, are happy to join in the festivities, which include building a snowman, sledding and ice skating. Meanwhile, his parents keep a watchful eye to ensure that he doesn’t get into any mischief.

The writing style is pleasant, with such phrases as “glittering rows of icicles, the pine trees dressed in white” complementing the pictures nicely. A bit of conflict arrives in the form of a blizzard, but this just leads to even more coziness as Chaucer and his friends barricade themselves against the icy blast by building a snow fort. The little bear manages to stay awake all through the winter, falling asleep only once spring has arrived, which reminds me of many a sleepover I had back in elementary school - though of course, we stayed up for hours, not weeks!

The plush Chaucer is the best part of this book-and-bear set, and now that there’s a new bear to take his place, getting your hands on the protagonist may be a little tricky. If you can pin the snuggly fellow down, then the book is a fun companion. As a stand-alone book, Chaucer’s First Winter is cute but ultimately unremarkable.

This review is an entry in the Lean-n-Mean Write-Off VIII.  Sometimes, less really can be more!  It's also an entry in Chelledun's "Get Those Holiday Reviews Out" Write-Off.  Let's get into the Christmas spirit!


Recommend this product? Yes


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