Of the four rooms downstairs in the northern Minnesota farmhouse, the one that might be called a living room is where Wayne and Eldon, their parents and great-uncle, and old Norwegian Nels spend their winters. There the family sits near the corner wood stove and listens, uninterrupting, as Uncle David tells stories—of the old country, of old times, of a semi-mythical lumberjack. Eldon, the younger son, begins his own story, in spring, when everything is soft. While he describes for readers the farm activities of each season and narrates memorable pranks and milestones of his boyhood, it is the palpable awareness of place and character that is unforgettable. Paulsen, with a simple intensity, brings to consciousness the texture, the smells, the light and shadows of each distinct season. He has penned a mood poem in prose. Uncle David's final story precipitates within the brothers a fuller understanding of personal identity and integrity. For those special readers who find delight in The Winter Room, it will become a part of their own identity and understanding.
Teachers who seek to illuminate the use of ordinary English words with extraordinary descriptive power will find the introductory chapter, in particular, to be a godsend.
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