The Winter Room

winter room


Book: The Winter Room

Author: Gary Paulsen

Cover Illustrator: Larry Rostant

Publisher: Yearling, reissued 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0440404545

ISBN-10: 0440404541

Related website: (publisher)

Language level: 2

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 9-12

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

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Paulsen, Gary.  The Winter Room (published in 1989 by Orchard Books, a trademark of Watts Publishing Ltd.; republished in 2009 by Scholastic Inc., 557 Broadway, New York City, NY  10012).  Eleven year old Eldon lives with his parents, thirteen year old brother Wayne, two great uncles David and Nels who had come from Norway, their dogs Foursons and Rex, and two horses Jim and Stacker, on an 87-acre farm in northern Minnesota.  The “winter room” is the living room where everyone gathers in the evening throughout the seasons but especially on icy cold nights, sitting in front of the stove, and the boys listen eagerly to all of Uncle David’s tales of the old country, such as ones about his late wife Alida, as well as mythical superheroes.  How dramatically will the family be affected by their uncle’s quirky storytelling?

Author Gary Paulsen has written three Newbery Honor Books: Dogsong (1986) which I did not like, Hatchett (1988) which is all right, and this one in 1990.  The Winter Room does have references to chewing tobacco and spitting the “snoose,” peeing, drinking beers, and dancing.  The main complaint about it is that it isn’t very exciting and doesn’t present much of a theme.  From a positive standpoint, it gives a good picture what life on a farm is like with its need for hard work, has a strong endorsement of the oral storytelling tradition, and generally extols the virtues of family.  While the tales which the characters tell are interesting, the novel itself seems to lack narrative drive.

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