Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Winter Is Coming

Johnston, Tony (Author)
LaMarche, Jim (Illustrator)
Simon & Schuster 2014. 32 pages
First published: 2014
ISBN: 9781442472518 (hardcover)
9781442472532 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, point of view, recurring patterns, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

As the seasons shift from fall to winter, a girl sits in the woods behind her house with a notepad, day after day, observing and sketching the animals that reveal themselves. Watching wild turkeys scavenge, she remembers her father’s advice: “We can learn from animals, my father says. About patience. About truth. About quiet. About taking only what you need from the land because we are just its keepers.” Like the animals, the girl is discreet, respecting nature’s hushed harmony: “I am quiet, quiet. The red fox is quiet, quiet. We share this place.”

The story’s pace is unhurried, the phrase, “winter is coming” repeated like a gentle mantra, evoking a contemplative mood. Each day—or evening—brings new animals whose beauty is expressed through inviting, poetic passages: “A ways off, lynx ghosts along, all shining. A lynx with black-tipped ears. A lynx with Egypt eyes. A lynx the colour of moon.”

A mix of acrylics, coloured pencils and opaque inks capture the understated magic of the woods. As fall bleeds into winter, fiery shades of rust and gold are gently blanketed in soft greys and indigos. Paired with figurative language, these beautiful, nuanced paintings draw the reader into a mindful, introspective space, where one can, like the character, admire and learn from nature’s deeply intuitive wisdom. “Something tells them when to leave,” observes the girl, watching Canada geese fly south. “Who knows what? I love honkers. I love their song. Gray. And sad. And old.”

  •  

    Examine the cover and endpapers. Make predictions about the text and the illustrations inside the book.

  •  

    Notice the different words used to describe the animals’ actions. Think about what you know about these animals and discuss how the author’s word choice brings them to life.

  •  

    Think about the structure of the story, and the recurrent phrase, “Winter is coming.” Discuss how the author uses repetition to move the story along and how she brings about the conclusion.

  •  

    Create a winter illustration that might be included in a sequel to this book. Compare with classmates and comment on your different ideas.

  •  

    Make a class list of familiar fall-related vocabulary. Discuss different ways of organizing the words and choose one to help you record the words into your log book. Add to your list as you find new fall words.

  •  

    On a picture walk, identify the animals and detect signs of winter.

  •  

    Draw a character map of the girl. Compare how you are similar to or different from her.

  •  

    Explore an outdoor space near you. Write a page in the same style, including any wildlife you see.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use information
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Science and Technology
  • Visual Arts