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Pickle Me This

December 6, 2019

The Shortest Day, by Susan Cooper and Carson Ellis

“So the shortest day came, and the year died…” begins The Shortest Day, an extraordinary picture book by Susan Cooper, with illustrations by Carson Ellis, a celebration of solstice, Yuletide, and rituals that light up the darkness. “And everywhere down the centuries/ of the snow-white world/ Came people singing, dancing,/ To drive the dark away.” In her illustrations, Ellis shows those centuries progressing in Northern European cultures, as people move from the Neolithic era, carrying spears, and then “down the centuries” to the contemporary moment, children revelling in a warm and cozy home decorated with an evergreen tree and boughs, candles and a menorah, traditions that connect us to our ancestors and to the earth. This is one of the loveliest “Christmas” books that I’ve ever come across, a book that celebrates what, to me, are the most sacred parts of the season.

2 thoughts on “The Shortest Day, by Susan Cooper and Carson Ellis”

  1. theresa says:

    Is this the same Susan Cooper who wrote The Dark is Rising? I’ll never forget reading that with my kids around this time of year and the magnificent sense of atmosphere, of menace, of courage…

    1. Kerry says:

      Ooooh, it is—but I have not read that book. Maybe I should read it with my kids.

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