Book review: The Shortest Day — written by Susan Cooper, illustrated by Carson Ellis

(Candlewick Press)

The winter solstice, as many readers know, is a day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. It’s also the first official day of winter. This year it falls on Saturday, Dec. 21. Also called midwinter, Yule, or the Longest Night, many cultures around the world celebrate this day as the birthday of the sun. Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper wrote the poem “The Shortest Day” for early music revivalist John Langstaff’s Christmas Revels, where it is performed annually across the country. Caldecott Honoree Carson Ellis brings the Yuletide poem to glorious life — her dramatic illustrations impart all the mythic wonder this annual occurrence inspires. Ellis’ paintings convey information as well as wonder so the youngest reader (ages 4-8) can grasp the beauty as well as glimpse the deeper meaning and significance. A deeper understanding of our natural world conveyed in a breathtakingly gorgeous and warm and inviting and whimsical picture book you’ll want to read again and again.

— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.

 

10 Beautiful Picture Books

Over and Under the Snow, by Kate Messner, Christopher Silas Neal

Hello Lighthouse, by Sophie Blackall

Winter Is Here, by Kevin Henkes, Laura Dronzek

Grand Canyon, by Jason Chin

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle

A Stone Sat Still, by Brendan Wenzel

The Sad Little Fact, by Jonah Winter, Pete Oswald

Five Minutes, by Audrey Vernick, Liz Garton Scanlon, Olivier Tallec

The Word Collector, by Peter H. Reynolds

Where Do They Go?, by Julia Alvarez, Sabra Field

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