A mix of titles currently on my shelves.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Solstice, the Longest Night

Those of us who live in the North don’t take light for granted. We appreciate its nuances. We study it for both quality and quantity. In the North, summer and winter solstices aren’t abstract events; they are marking points that give us pause for contemplation in summer and cheer us on in winter.

The Longest Night, by well-known author Marion Dane Bauer, is a beautiful winter solstice story about forest animals trying to call back the sun. Just listen to the beginning:

The snow lies deep.

The night is long and long.

The stars are ice, the moon is frost,

and all the world is still.

That sounds like my world right about now! As I write this at nine o’clock in the morning, it is still pitch dark outside. Fresh snow fell during the night, muffling the sounds of the day, which is evidenced only by such human constructs as the ticking clock and the morning news. It’s the time of year when I cheer myself up with Christmas lights and candles. As each day brings fewer minutes of light, I cling to the knowledge that soon -- at solstice -- the process will start to reverse. It will seem slow at first but that’s okay – because I know the light is returning.

The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ted Lewin

Bauer’s simply elegant text and Ted Lewin’s marvelous illustrations capture the essence of this annual phenomenon. Lewin used just three colors, to stunning effect, in depicting the outdoor, nighttime snow scenes. Encountering his animals on the page is nearly as riveting as meeting them in real life on a dark night in the forest.

The combination of Lewin’s art with Bauer’s poetically expressed story makes this a new favorite picture book for me, one I will continue to enjoy sharing with children and use as an inspiration in my own writing.

For ages 4-8.
Golden Kite Award 2010

"A Conversation with...Marion Dane Bauer and Ted Lewin"
Publisher Holiday House's Website

No comments:

Post a Comment