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The Shortest Day

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  101 ratings  ·  24 reviews
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./>So
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published October 22nd 2019 by Candlewick Press
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  101 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Whispering Stories
Nov 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Book Reviewed on

The 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
Melissa Mcavoy
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
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The pictures and text of this book matched well with each other; both are simple, sparse, striking. The early pages of the book have less light as the book opens with, "And so the Shortest Day came and the year died" Gradually, as people gather to celebrate the new year and light, the illustrations get brighter and brighter as the book closes with communities celebrating together and the line,

"They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
Martha Meyer
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it

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)
Nov 13, 2019 marked it as x-new
Text of the poem here:

Great to see a picture-book edition. I've had mixed feelings about Ellis's work elsewhere so I don't know if I'll like the book myself, but I'm glad it's been published.
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, poetry
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.
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a unique picture book! Evocative illustrations tell the story of the winter solstice and the many ways different cultures have marked its arrival.
Zandria Senft
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
A beautifully illustrated book about the winter solstice!
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poems
A beautiful poem for the winter solstice, with beautiful illustrations.
Sep 03, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
Oct 30, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
Nov 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A different kind of Christmas book (technically Yule). Way spookier than the cover implies, but in a cozy, comfy way.
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful poetic story of the origins of the winter solstice holidays.
Nov 11, 2019 marked it as to-read
(early) 11.10.2019: per NYTimes: Children's Books: Picture Books: Into the Woods recommendation; at Madison Co. Public Library, Richmond...;
Raven Black
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Lovely illustrations but format can make reading the poem awkward. However, a copy is at the end of the book.
Austin Gullett
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Set to a poem about Winter Solstice, accompanied with beautiful illustrations. I found this book to be very serene and warm, which I would be as bold as to say that that was its purpose.
Edward Sullivan
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cooper's lovely poem celebrating winter solstice complemented with beautiful, atmospheric illustrations by Carson Ellis.
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nov 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Sara brought home from public library so I read it.
Amanda Zirn Hudson
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A stunningly beautiful and atmospheric picture book that will make any reader excited to celebrate the winter solstice!
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Justine Ridder
rated it it was ok
Nov 05, 2019
Alixandra Sanderson
rated it it was amazing
Oct 12, 2019
Alec Brown
rated it liked it
Nov 01, 2019
rated it liked it
Nov 06, 2019
Emily Harestad
rated it liked it
Nov 16, 2019
Stefanie Molinaro
rated it really liked it
Nov 17, 2019
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Susan Cooper's latest book is the YA novel "Ghost Hawk" (2013)

Susan Cooper was born in 1935, and grew up in England's Buckinghamshire, an area that was green countryside then but has since become part of Greater London. As a child, she loved to read, as did her younger brother, who also became a writer. After attending Oxford, where she became the first woman to ever edit that universi