The Shortest Day | Book Review

“So the shortest day came, and the year died…”


As the sun sets 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 is a great book that celebrates winter solstice. It is written beautifully with illustrations to accompany it perfectly. It gives us the best explanation of solstice that can be understood by children. We also love how the poem, The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper is in its entirety on the last page.

This book is a great tool to teach children (7 years+) about the solstice. At the solstices, the sun reaches its highest or lowest point in our sky, giving us the longest or the shortest day of the year; at the equinoxes, day and night are almost equal. Spring equinox, summer solstice, autumn equinox, winter solstice; round and round they go.

We just enjoyed this story immensely and therefore, we give it 5 stars out of 5! This book is a classic and you will enjoy it too.

If you would like to purchase this book, click here.

About the Author

Susan Cooper wrote “The Shortest Day” for John Langstaff’s Christmas Revels, where it is performed annually across the country. She is the author of the classic fantasy sequence The Dark Is Rising, which includes the Newbery Medal winner The Grey King, as well as many other books for children and adults. She lives on a salt-marsh island in Marshfield, Massachusetts.

About the Illustrator

Carson Ellis is the creator of the Caldecott Honor Book Du Iz Tak? and the New York Times bestseller Home. She is also the ullustrator of The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket and Dillweed’s Revenge: A Deadly Dose of Magic by Florence Parry Heide, and she collaborated with her husband, Colin Meloy, on the best-selling Wildwood series. Carson Ellis lives outside Portland, Oregon.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

*The book was provided in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are our own.

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