Children's LiteratureA companion to the The Winter Solstice, this well-written book describes the worldwide ways that societies celebrate the end of the growing season and brighten the increasing darkness. The text is unbroken by headings and reads as a story of harvest celebrations through the agessome named, such as the Celtic festival of Samhain, and others unnamed, such as the Chinese celebration of the Queen of Heaven's birthday. Norse, English, Iroquois, Nigerian and Angolan customs are mentioned. In addition, the Jewish Succoth with its hut construction and the Indian Pongal with its rice treats and cattle head dressings are told. Ten related activities include construction (African drum, Succoth shoebox shelter), cooking (Pongal dessert, Chinese moon cakes), and some nice "thank you" activities, plus planting (like Squanto) aimed at a school classroom but that may be adapted for family or club use. A bibliography of old titles needs refreshing but the book itself is a good addition to the fall curriculum. 2000, Millbrook Press, $22.90 and $14.95. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Susan Hepler
School Library JournalGr 2-5-This informative and succinct title begins with a definition of the equinox and covers historical perspectives as well as current festivities in America, Europe, China, India, Nigeria, Angola, and Great Britain. An autumn story from the Sauk ("-a North American people originally living in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois") caps the presentation. Crafts, recipes, and games enhance the book's educational potential. Ellis's stimulating folk-art illustrations capture the essences of different cultures while retaining a continuity that helps to highlight similarities among such observances. Though not detailed enough to support an in-depth report, the information provides an excellent introduction to the importance of the autumn equinox. Though this title works best read independently or one-on-one, individual sections could be shared with a large group. The Autumn Equinox should join Jackson's The Winter Solstice (Millbrook, 1994) in any library serving children.-Jody McCoy, The Bush School, Seattle, WA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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