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The Longest Night School & Library Binding – August 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • School & Library Binding: 24 pages
  • Publisher: Holiday House (August 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082342054X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823420544
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 9.7 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #953,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2–4—This stunningly crafted tale, written in the language of the storyteller, realistically pictures, in both words and paintings, the phenomenon that is the winter solstice. ("The snow lies deep./The night is long and long./The stars are ice, the moon is frost,/and all the world is still.") Although the characters in the almost poetic text are animals—crow, moose, fox—they express the apprehension felt by ancient peoples as they anxiously awaited the sun's return following the longest night of the year. Amid the snow, darkness, and bitter wind, each of the creatures boasts that it will get the sun to return, but the wind replies, "Not you,…Not you." Surprisingly, the wind chooses the tiny chickadee to wake the slumbering sun with her cheery song—"Dee-dee-dee." "And with the song/of one small bird/and the sun's answering smile/the journey toward spring/begins." There is plenty of moonlight in Lewin's watercolor paintings created with just blue, brown, and green. Double-page close-ups of a sleeping, moonlit bear surrounded by tiny snoozing field mice; the soft, knowing eyes of the antlered moose; the vicious snarl of the heavily whiskered fox; and the larger-than-life chickadee all create the feeling that you, the observer, are standing close at hand, a participant in this annual ritual of nature.—Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH END

About the Author

Ted Lewin grew up in Buffalo, New York, with two brothers, one sister, two parents, a lion, an iguana, and a chimpanzee. He became interested in art as a young boy when he would draw his brothers' wold of wrestling. Ted later worked as a professional wrestler to finance his studies at the Pratt Institute of Fine Arts, where he met his wife, Betsy Lewin, also a children's book writer and illustrator. He and his wife travel around the world to research the setting for their books. While working on Sacred River, which he both wrote and illustrated, Ted joined thousands of Hindus on their pilgrimage to the banks of the Ganges River in Benares, India. Ted now lives and works in the brownstone he shares with his wife and their two cats in Brooklyn, New York. www.tedlewin.com.

Marion Dane Bauer is an award-winning author who also teaches in the Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College. Among her Clarion titles are ON MY HONOR, a Newbery Honor Book; A BEAR NAMED TROUBLE; and RUNT: THE STORY OF A WOLF PUP. She lives with her partner, Ann Goddard, in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. 

More About the Author

*******************************************
Newbery Honor Winner Continues to Challenge Herself--
and Readers--Twenty-Five Years Later
http://bit.ly/25mdane
*******************************************

Marion Dane Bauer is the author of more than eighty books for young people, ranging from novelty and picture books through early readers, both fiction and nonfiction, books on writing, and middle-grade and young-adult novels. She has won numerous awards, including several Minnesota Book Awards, a Jane Addams Peace Association Award for RAIN OF FIRE, an American Library Association Newbery Honor Award for ON MY HONOR, a number of state children's choice awards and the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota for the body of her work.

She is also the editor of and a contributor to the ground-breaking collection of gay and lesbian short stories, Am I Blue? Coming Out from the Silence.

Marion was one of the founding faculty and the first Faculty Chair for the Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her writing guide, the American Library Association Notable WHAT'S YOUR STORY? A YOUNG PERSON'S GUIDE TO WRITING FICTION, is used by writers of all ages. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen different languages.

She has six grandchildren and lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her partner and a cavalier King Charles spaniel, Dawn.

-------------------------------------
INTERVIEW WITH MARION DANE BAUER
-------------------------------------

Q. What brought you to a career as a writer?

A. I seem to have been born with my head full of stories. For almost as far back as I can remember, I used most of my unoccupied moments--even in school when I was supposed to be doing other "more important" things--to make up stories in my head. I sometimes got a notation on my report card that said, "Marion dreams." It was not a compliment. But while the stories I wove occupied my mind in a very satisfying way, they were so complex that I never thought of trying to write them down. I wouldn't have known where to begin. So though I did all kinds of writing through my teen and early adult years--letters, journals, essays, poetry--I didn't begin to gather the craft I needed to write stories until I was in my early thirties. That was also when my last excuse for not taking the time to sit down to do the writing I'd so long wanted to do started first grade.

Q. And why write for young people?

A. Because I get my creative energy in examining young lives, young issues. Most people, when they enter adulthood, leave childhood behind, by which I mean that they forget most of what they know about themselves as children. Of course, the ghosts of childhood still inhabit them, but they deal with them in other forms--problems with parental authority turn into problems with bosses, for instance--and don't keep reaching back to the original source to try to fix it, to make everything come out differently than it did the first time. Most children's writers, I suspect, are fixers. We return, again and again, usually under the cover of made-up characters, to work things through. I don't know that our childhoods are necessarily more painful than most. Every childhood has pain it, because life has pain in it at every stage. The difference is that we are compelled to keep returning to the source.

Q. You write for a wide range of ages. Do you write from a different place in writing for preschoolers than for young adolescents?

A. In a picture book or board book, I'm always writing from the womb of the family, a place that--while it might be intruded upon by fears, for instance--is still, ultimately, safe and nurturing. That's what my own early childhood was like, so it's easy for me to return to those feelings and to recreate them.
When I write for older readers, I'm writing from a very different experience. My early adolescence, especially, was a time of deep alienation, mostly from my peers but in some ways from my family as well. And so I write my older stories out of that pain, that longing for connection. A story has to have a problem at its core. No struggle, no story. And so that struggle for connection has become the central experience of all my older fiction. It's what gives my stories heart and meaning.

Q. How does your Newbery Honor novel, On My Honor, fit with that pattern of writing about alienation and connection?

A. It would be easy to say that On My Honor is different from my other novels in that it was the first story I ever drew from a real event. Having a friend drown in a river wasn't something that happened to me, but it happened to a friend of mine when we were twelve or thirteen. When I heard about the incident at the time I felt it in a visceral way. What would it be like to have a choice I made turn into something so terrible and to know that I could never do anything to make the situation right? I wondered. That's where I started when I began writing the story, with the two boys on their bikes heading toward the river, everything about to go terribly wrong. Very quickly, though, I realized that while I had a clear story problem, the drowning, I had no solution for the problem . . . unless I was going to bring Tony back to life, and I wasn't writing that kind of story. At that point I instinctively backed up and started again. This time I began with Joel, the main character, asking his father's permission to bike with his friend Tony out to the state park, something Tony is pressuring him to do and which Joel is hoping his father will forbid. His father, not understanding the situation, gives permission, and Joel is furious . . . alienated. Once I had that opening, the frame for my story was set. Alienation in the opening, reconciliation at the end. The reconciliation can't change the fact of Tony's death, but it gives closure and comfort. So it fits the usual pattern for my novels. (Perhaps I should note that I didn't do any of this consciously. I wasn't saying, "I write about alienation and reconnection. How can I fit that in here?" I just reached for events that made the story feel right for me, and those were the ones to present themselves.)

Q. You often write animal stories: Ghost Eye, Runt, A Bear Named Trouble, and now Little Dog, Lost is about to come out. Is there any particular reason that you write about animals?

A. The first reason I write about animals is because animals touch a deep chord in my own psyche. I have always been fascinated by the pets that share my life, by watching their minds work, by noting their emotions, by feeling the life that pulses through them. So writing about animals just feels right. But I write about animals, also, because animal stories are universal. If I'm writing about a twelve-year-old boy it is assumed that I'm writing for other ten, eleven, twelve-year-old boys. If I'm writing about a cat, a wolf, a bear, a dog, I'm writing for everyone . . . even adults, even myself. Perhaps especially myself.

Q. You are known as a writing teacher as well as a writer. How to you find a balance between teaching and writing?

A. I have taught for many years, though I'm retired from teaching now except for occasional very time-limited stints. My most recent teaching was through the Vermont College of Fine Arts in their MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program. But I have taken care to make sure my primary time and energy were devoted to my own writing. I made sure I was a writer who teaches, not a teacher who writes.

Q. How has teaching writing impacted your own development as a writer?

A. Being a writing teacher has, of course, sharpened my skills as a critic. You can't say to a developing writer, "Your story doesn't work." You have to tell her what specifically doesn't work and why and then, without intruding, give suggestions about what the next step might be in strengthening that story. Having, again and again, to define with thought and care what is needed in other writers' work brings me back to my own work with deepened insights. Eventually, I teach myself what I'm teaching others, and having said it to others makes it easier to hear for myself. One time my partner, who was not a writer herself but who had heard me speak to writers on a number of occasions, read an early draft of one of my stories and said, "Wouldn't you say . . . to one of your students?" And . . . was exactly what that story needed, so I learned from myself through her.

Q. You've been writing stories for young people for more than forty years, and you've mentioned that you keep playing out some of the same deep themes. How do you manage to keep your work fresh?

A. One of the things that keeps my work fresh is moving between different genres. A picture book requires such different energy than a young novella, and a different rhythm, too. A young novella has a different rhythm and energy than an older novel. Nonfiction is its own experience. Moving between the various demands of the various kinds of work keeps me from ever settling into a rut. When I'm writing a young chapter book, a chapter is about five pages long. It's just a natural shape those younger stories fall into. And I love climbing into a chapter knowing I can, very quickly, climb out again. But then when I turn to an older novel where chapters can be much longer, I love equally settling in and fleshing my world out, stretching. One of my most recent books, a novella called Little Dog, Lost, moves into the territory of fiction in verse, something entirely new for me. I took such pleasure in writing that story because I had to discover how to do what I was doing at every step along the way. Even after more than 80 books published, everything about that story felt fresh because the way I was presenting it was fresh for me.

Q. What is your deepest motivation in writing for children?

A. I entered the field with a single passion ... to be a truth teller. I grew up in at a time when children were routinely lied to, lies of omission--information we were carefully shielded from--as much as overt untruths. And my mother, while certainly well intentioned, was probably better than most both at shielding and at lying to "protect" me. When I grew old enough to understand the ways I'd been lied to, I was furious. And I was also determined not to follow the same path in dealing with children myself, my own children or the ones I wrote for. Children are far less apt to be shielded from basic information these days. In fact, they are bombarded through the media with what may be a too explicit view--certainly too skewed and dark a view--of the world they are entering. But they still need the deep realities of the life that stands before them--the pain of it and the hope--to be interpreted in a straightforward and wise way. That's what my stories attempt to do, to tell the truth as I know it. It's truth with a small t, of course, because it is my truth, not something handed down from on high, but it's the very best of what I have to bring to the page.

Q. Finally, you've been writing and teaching for a long time. You have retired from teaching. Do you expect to retire from writing some day?

A. I hope not. I hope to be able to continue writing as long as my brain still works. It's like breathing. It's not just what I do for a livelihood. It's what I do to live.

Customer Reviews

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He flaps his wings and can be seen by the light of the full moon.
D. Fowler
I think it's important to have a balance of cute and realistic animals in picture books.
Kimberly Lynn
The illustrations are beautiful and the story is simple and elegant.
Angela Turner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: School & Library Binding
It was quiet and still in the nighttime forest. Snow lay on the branches of the tree and lay deep on the forest floor. The bears were fast asleep in their dens and the "velvet mice" huddled together in theirs. Only one little mouse seemed to be glancing around in his home under the snow. The "night-dark crow" begins to squawk and croak at the moon. He flaps his wings and can be seen by the light of the full moon. The gigantic moose trudges through the deep snow and the "clever fox" talks to no one in particular in the dark of the night. They all talk about the night and wonder where the sun has gone. The chickadee sits in a tree and talks to them all . . .

"The night is long and long," says a chickadee./
"The sun is gone and gone./
If now crow or moose or fox, then who?/
Who can bring back the sun?"/
"You," says the wind. "Only you."/

This is a very poetic, gentle wintertime tale that walks the reader through the landscape and visits with some of its inhabitants, large and small. The artwork is gorgeous and captures the "dark" of the winter months. Between the artwork and the text I felt as if I were walking alone on snowshoes throw the woods. It captures the essence of the winter wood so exquisitely I could almost feel the crunch of the snow under my feet. This is a perfect book for those in snowy climates and a dream book for those who don't!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Catherine W. Hughes on January 22, 2010
Format: School & Library Binding
In the deep snow of winter, the night is "long and long." Whose call will bring back the sun? It won't be the crow or the mighty moose. It won't be the fox, with sharp nose and teeth. But, it will be the chickadee, to sing the song of spring to come: "Dee-dee-dee." Stark illustrations pair with spare text to create a beautiful backdrop of nature. Children ages 4-7 will celebrate winter's splendor, singing songs of spring to come: "Dee-dee-dee."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nonfiction on September 14, 2010
Format: School & Library Binding Verified Purchase
I would give this 3.5 stars. The illustrations are beautiful but really dark and not just in terms of color. There are close ups of a flapping raven and a snarling fox that are just a bit scary looking for younger readers. It does a good job of capturing the desperate feeling that some of humans feel on the darkest day of the year and extends these to the animals in the story. The writing attempts to be poetic and succeeds in some places while sounding a bit awkward in others.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. Miller on August 20, 2010
Format: School & Library Binding Verified Purchase
"The Longest Night" is a quiet melody that pays homage to the littlest of heroes. It's a cold, cold winter, a time when "cold and dark now rule." Those of the forest worry that the sun will not return. A crow, a moose and a fox brag that they can bring back the sun. One by one each call out, and one by one, each fail. Who will bring back the sun?

Marion's poetic text sings, evoking the rhythms found in the sights and sounds of nature's winter. Reflecting the traditional motif in ancient storytelling, the smallest hero is chosen by the wind: "'You," says the wind. "Only you." No one believes this little hero can bring back the sun. Somehow, this reluctant hero must find the courage to sing back the sun.

Ted Lewin uses watercolor masterfully to bring dimension and wonder to the story. Reflecting winter in the forest, he uses only three colors : blue, brown, and a special shade of green. Until, of course, the sun smiles, and then the final three pages light up - literally.

This book is an exceptional read aloud, especially for a cold winter's night!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Bessire on December 1, 2010
Format: School & Library Binding Verified Purchase
I loved this book and I highly recommend it be bought for younger children. It is such a beautiful, poetic book and my little cousins were enchanted with it. There is hope at the end of a long, cold, winter's evening. And how fitting that the little Chickadee, was the one chosen to bring hope of a brighter, warmer, better day to all of the creatures in the forest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J Haffner on January 28, 2013
Format: School & Library Binding Verified Purchase
If you are looking for a Winter Solstice picture, this one is amazing. Beautiful pictures and a great story about the strength that can be found in gentleness. I spent hours searching on line for a good solstice picture book and then gave up. The next week, I stumbled across this at our local library and I loved it so much I bought it. It has become our annual book for our solstice celebration for 3 years now. Highly recommend!
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