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Author: Cooper, Susan
A beloved poem heralds the winter solstice.
Kirkus Reviews (+) (09/01/19)
School Library Journal (+) (10/01/19)
The Hornbook (+) (00/11/19)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 10/01/2019 K-Gr 4—This lovely celebration of winter solstice blends imagery from the long-ago revelries of northern Europeans with modern-day observations and global traditions. Originally created for a 1974 theatrical production of the Christmas Revels, the poem is filled with ear-pleasing rhythms, lyrical language, and a dramatic momentum that pulls listeners in. The gouache illustrations open with atmospheric renderings of old Europe; the curved outlines and warm earth tones bring to mind ancient cave paintings. As pages turn, the sun, perched on the shoulders of a dusky gray figure with a walking stick, strides across the horizon crouching ever lower, until it sets behind the backdrop of wooden houses ("So the shortest day came,/and the year died"). The next scene shows a line of villagers venturing into the night, "singing, dancing,/To drive the dark away." They place lighted candles in trees, hang their homes in evergreen, and burn "beseeching fires all night long/To keep the year alive" until "the new year's sunshine blazed awake." Their delighted voices reverberate through the centuries, as modern-day celebrants "carol, feast, give thanks,/And dearly love their friends,/and hope for peace" in a cozy home festooned with both Christmas tree and menorah. A line of children head outdoors to "Welcome Yule!," their silhouettes and joyful expressions cleverly echoing the villagers from long ago (the sun figure reappears on the final page). VERDICT A treat to share aloud, this book makes a unique choice for seasonal sharing, opens discussion about rebirth rituals and holidays that incorporate light, and celebrates hope even in darkest times.–Joy Fleishhacker, Pikes Peak Library District, Colorado Springs - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 03/01/2020 Cooper’s poem reflecting on the winter solstice is wondrously celebrated in Caldecott Honor–winning Ellis’ folk-style paintings, which are alive with the raw spirit of the Yuletide season, whatever form that may take. Snow-blanketed homes, from centuries past, are draped with evergreens and flooded with dancing villagers, who light candles and fires to welcome the new year’s dawn, as their translucent gods swirl above. “Through all the frosty ages you can hear them / Echoing, behind us—listen!” And so the book moves forward in time to a diverse gathering in a cozy living room, where a sparkling Christmas tree shares space with a gold menorah and text describing this shortest day of the year as one of promise, love, friendship, and peace. It is a lovely, enduring sentiment that promotes no single religion but allows for spirituality, making it fitting for families of all stripes. This warm message is aglow in Ellis’ paintings, which are kissed by gold-tendrilled suns, sparking flames, and peach skies, against which mittened hands clasp together in joy. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.