- Age Range: 6 - 9 years
- Grade Level: 1 - 4
- Paperback: 40 pages
- Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (September 4, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0147512840
- ISBN-13: 978-0147512840
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.1 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 56 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #342,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice Paperback – September 4, 2014
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Praise for The Shortest Day:
"In a well-thought-out collection of ideas surrounding December 21 and the Winter Solstice, the author leads readers through what happens to the sun and why... Back pages include an interesting and useful variety of ideas, from more facts about the solstice with explanatory diagrams, four projects that teachers, parents, and adults who work with children would find fresh, and two "cooking" activities, one for a human party and one for an avian one."
"Using clear, concise language, Pfeffer discusses important ideas behind the shortest day of the year, such as the change from autumn to winter as well as the concept of the Earth's tilting away from the sun. The historical view provides a brief look at the days of prehistoric sun worship as well as chronological interpretations of the phenomenon from 5000 to 1000 years ago. Thus, young listeners are exposed to the ideas of ancient Egyptian, Chinese, Incan, and European astronomers and their efforts to explain this scientific wonder. The modern scene of the solstice celebration, though obviously at Christmas, features family, presents, and stockings on the mantle but has no religious overtones. The remaining pages feature more complete "Solstice Facts," four simple experiments, two party suggestions, and a short but up-to-date list for further reading. While appealing to a younger audience, this treatment combines the cultural approach of Ellen Jackson's The Winter Solstice (Millbrook, 1994) and the activities of Sandra Markle's Exploring Winter (Atheneum, 1984; o.p.). Pfeffer uses an easy, comfortable tone for conveying the basic information, and the end pages will provide additional opportunities for would-be astronomers to explore the principles on their own."
—School Library Journal
About the Author
Wendy Pfeffer is the author of many children's books, including the Creatures in White series with Silver Burdett, several Let's Read and Find Out titles for HarperCollins, and A Log's Life with S&S.
Jesse Reisch has provided artwork for several children's and adult books.
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Top customer reviews
It may come as a surprise to many people that a book about Winter holidays does not mention Christmas or Hannukah. However, this book reaches back farther in time to festivals and celebrations based on natural phenomena that occur in the Winter (shorter days, plants losing leaves). These very early celebrations gave rise to many of the customs that we still follow (bringing evergreens into the home, giving gifts, lighting candles). I love the anthropological perspective (I'm trained in this field), and was thrilled to find the suggested activities at the end of the book for children to make simple scientific observations and hold a secular celebration of the Solstice.
This book would make a wonderful classroom resource as well as a read-aloud picture book to read as a family. It may be a bit too easy a read for children at a 2nd grade reading level or higher, but I enjoy the simplicity even as an adult. I also find the secular perspective refreshing. I understand that many Christians believe the only winter holiday of importance is the celebration of Christ's birth, but this book shows how it is possible to celebrate Winter for it's own sake and to recognize why so many festivals are held in winter.
Boston's Winter Solstice sunset is around 4:15pm, and the sunrise is around 7:11am -- the chart misses these times by more than an hour! Boston has an even earlier sunset in early December and a later sunrise in early January.