The Shortest Day
In this seasonal treasure, Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper's beloved poem heralds the winter solstice, illuminated by Caldecott Honoree Carson Ellis's strikingly resonant illustrations.So the shortest day came, and the year died . . .As the sun set on the shortest day of the year, early people would gather to prepare for the long night ahead. They built fires and lit candles. They played music, bringing their own light to the darkness, while wondering if the sun would ever rise again. Written for a theatrical production that has become a ritual in itself, Susan Cooper's poem "The Shortest Day" captures the magic behind the returning of the light, the yearning for traditions that connect us with generations that have gone before -- and the hope for peace that we carry into the future. Richly illustrated by Carson Ellis with a universality that spans the centuries, this beautiful book evokes the joy and community found in the ongoing mystery of life when we celebrate light, thankfulness, and festivity at a time of rebirth. Welcome Yule!

The Shortest Day Details

TitleThe Shortest Day
Author
ReleaseOct 22nd, 2019
PublisherCandlewick Press
ISBN-139780763686987
Rating
GenreChildrens, Picture Books, Poetry, Holiday, Christmas, Nonfiction

The Shortest Day Review

  • Whispering Stories
    January 1, 1970
    Book Reviewed on www.whisperingstories.comThe Shortest Day is a children’s book all about the Winter Solstice and is based on a poem by author Susan Cooper which is recited every year on Revels Stage in nine different American cities.The poem itself is lovely and the illustrations although a little dark really brings the story to life, however, I feel that the poem is more for adults than for children as it comes across as if it might be a little confusing for younger readers.At the back Book Reviewed on www.whisperingstories.comThe Shortest Day is a children’s book all about the Winter Solstice and is based on a poem by author Susan Cooper which is recited every year on Revels Stage in nine different American cities.The poem itself is lovely and the illustrations although a little dark really brings the story to life, however, I feel that the poem is more for adults than for children as it comes across as if it might be a little confusing for younger readers.At the back of the book, there is an explanation about the poem which again has been written as if it is for an adult reading it not a child.Whilst I think the book looks beautiful I just don’t believe that the majority of children will understand the meaning, especially not in the UK where the Winter Solstice is rarely celebrated. Until the explanation, at the end, there is no real reference to what the shortest day is, when it happens, why it comes about. Such a shame as it could have been an amazing book if only the explanation for the shortest day was more prominent.
    more
  • Melissa Mcavoy
    January 1, 1970
    Aaargh, This book is so close to being great and after one read I had decided it was - five stars and a top place on our school's Book Fest Top Picks 2019. And then I read it again...and while still very good, it fatally does not deliver on its promise - "The Shortest Day is for everyone". It is fine to have a Christmas book, fine to have a book that speaks about any single history, both those books could be excellent. What is not ok is to have a book that purports to speak to all but reveals a Aaargh, This book is so close to being great and after one read I had decided it was - five stars and a top place on our school's Book Fest Top Picks 2019. And then I read it again...and while still very good, it fatally does not deliver on its promise - "The Shortest Day is for everyone". It is fine to have a Christmas book, fine to have a book that speaks about any single history, both those books could be excellent. What is not ok is to have a book that purports to speak to all but reveals a profound bias.The handsome opening images show neolithic peoples, focusing on northern cultures, but then we move on to more identifiable cultural representations and all of them are Nordic. On re-reading I kept looking for one spread that would include one of the many Asian cultures that has traditions around light. (Lots of South American cultures also do, but even hewing to a northern latitude theme there were plenty of examples that could have been pictured if this book were really for everyone - China, Korea, parts of India and Japan.) There are multiple mis-steps in the author's note at the end. While she inclusively mentions Chanukah and Diwali (and there are brown faces and a menorah included in the modern illustrations of holiday celebration) there rest of the text is very Christmas heavy and ends with the unforgivable line "When your family and friends celebrate Christmas in their own way, maybe you could astonish them all by standing up and reciting The Shortest Day."I do not understand how this almost excellent book could have gotten through the editorial process with out someone mentioning - "Carson add an Asian celebration, Susan add a sentence to the Christmas origin story of the poem to talk about how it connects to a more universal celebratory impulse and do not end your book for everyone with the explicit assumption that everyone celebrates Christmas!" Aaaargh!For more inclusive shortest day nonfiction check out: The Shortest Day by Pfeffer, Celebrations of Light by Luenn, and The Winter Solstice by Jackson.
    more
  • Krysta
    January 1, 1970
    Haunting.
  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    A recognition and celebration of our ages-old marking of the winter solstice and welcoming of the returning light. Beautiful poetry by Cooper and stunning illustrations by Ellis.
  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    This book, in its entirety, is beautiful, peaceful, and perfect. The verse gives me chills. Every time. Read it aloud. You'll see what I mean. Dive deeply into the quiet, dark watercolor illustrations. You'll feel the same sense of peace and connection to all of the people throughout time who honor the sun and its centrality to life. You'll feel a kinship. There are very few picture books for kids about the Winter Solstice. There are so many people who celebrate this holiday, this turning point This book, in its entirety, is beautiful, peaceful, and perfect. The verse gives me chills. Every time. Read it aloud. You'll see what I mean. Dive deeply into the quiet, dark watercolor illustrations. You'll feel the same sense of peace and connection to all of the people throughout time who honor the sun and its centrality to life. You'll feel a kinship. There are very few picture books for kids about the Winter Solstice. There are so many people who celebrate this holiday, this turning point in the year, who are looking for the perfect book to explain to their kids (and themselves) the long history of our winter rituals in the North.
    more
  • Martha Meyer
    January 1, 1970
    The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper illustrated by Carson Ellis (2019) Striking art accompanies the words of a simple poem that Cooper wrote in 1974 for use during Winter Solstice celebrations. Simple words make this accessible for young kids. Terrific if you too are celebrating the solstices and equinoxes (and cross-quarter days) with the kids in your home or classroom (Preschool – Adult)
    more
  • Robin
    January 1, 1970
    I have always loved the poem and this picture book does it justice. An essential add to holiday collections and a perfect gift. Highly recommended for ages 4-6 and adults.
  • Zandria Senft
    January 1, 1970
    A beautifully illustrated book about the winter solstice!
  • Cmadler
    January 1, 1970
    A beautiful poem for the winter solstice, with beautiful illustrations.
  • Barbra
    January 1, 1970
    Softly coloured illustrations fill the pages of this book as the shortest day is celebrated long ago and today. It reminds us of the uniqueness of the winter season.
  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    A beautiful poem and illustrations for the upcoming winter days ahead. A must read for those who enjoy a more deep, traditional children's book.
  • Pam
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful poetic story of the origins of the winter solstice holidays.
  • Dale
    January 1, 1970
    (early) 11.10.2019: per NYTimes: Children's Books: Picture Books: Into the Woods recommendation; at Madison Co. Public Library, Richmond...;
  • Edward Sullivan
    January 1, 1970
    Cooper's lovely poem celebrating winter solstice complemented with beautiful, atmospheric illustrations by Carson Ellis.
  • Evonne
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful!
  • Amanda Zirn Hudson
    January 1, 1970
    A stunningly beautiful and atmospheric picture book that will make any reader excited to celebrate the winter solstice!
  • Earl
    January 1, 1970
    Readers who seek out hard-to-find winter solstice books will want to grab a copy of this one. Susan Cooper's poem is gorgeously illustrated by Carson Ellis.
Write a review