Rituals to celebrate the cycle of light and dark have existed since the beginning of time.
Newbery Medalist Cooper uses sparse, evocative language that personifies how humans celebrate the changing of the seasons. Featuring a poem created first for the Christmas Revels, the book tells the story of the solstices, how the world moves from the year’s longest day in the summer to the shortest day of winter. The tone is both solemn and reverent yet also full of rejoicing. The story begins as silent as sunrise, the rich, evocative illustrations of Caldecott Honoree Ellis giving voice as she shows early humans working during the time of light, their day’s activities revolving around the movement of the sun. “So the shortest day came,” writes Cooper, and Ellis’ beautiful gouache paintings depict a world that is pushing against the dark with candles and dance and song. Despite the urgency of the people to push away darkness for light, the tone of the tale is one of hope, anticipation, love, joy and spiritual happiness, culminating with Yule. People depicted morph from early hunter-gatherers to people in northern European medieval garb to a multiracial gathering. They gather in a modern Western home with mantelpiece decorated with menorah and holly, singing carols by the Christmas tree.
As precious as sunshine. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)