The Word Pirates
US edition
Candlewick Press, 2019
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your local bookseller
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UK edition
Walker Books, 2019
Buy this book from
your local bookseller
or online from:
Walker Books UK
The Shortest Day
illustrated by Carson Ellis
So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
The opening words of Susan Cooper’s iconic poem have brought a hush to audiences for over forty years of Revels theater productions in celebration of the winter solstice and the Yuletide season.
The Shortest Day captures the magic behind the returning of seasonal light, the yearning for rituals that connect us with the generations that have gone before — and the hope for peace that we carry into the future.
Here is the text of "The Shortest Day." (copyright Susan Cooper)
May you quote the poem? Yes, with three conditions: It must be for personal, non-commercial use, and you must use the poem in its entirety (including the last line), and you must cite it “Copyright Susan Cooper.” If you are a non-profit organization, or have a project of any kind that will get distributed, please contact me for permission. Creative fans have done beautiful things with it—setting it to music, creating art and holiday cards, holding annual readings at Yuletide bonfires— and I would love to hear about your usage!
Indie Regional Bestseller, 2019
ABA National Bestseller, 2019
NCTE Notable Poetry Book, 2020
NEBS Finalist, Children’s Books, 2020
“The Shortest Day” … is meant to be read as part of a winter solstice revel. But Ellis’s illustrations are so evocative and powerful, this book could easily be enjoyed any time of year. It is a celebration of the dark, the joy found in the bare months.”
“...this cyclical volume offers an alluringly haunting alternative to more familiar seasonal fareā€”one that is sure to serve as ‘lights of hope’ on a dark season’s stage.”  
“…the tone of the tale is one of hope, anticipation, love, joy and spiritual happiness…”
“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.”
“…at its heart it’s a story about hope, anticipation and love. And it doesn’t hurt to have more of that every day of the year.”
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