The Sun is Late and So is the Farmer – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Looking for a picture book with a “classic” feel, one that exists in the realm of folklore meets magical realism? Here’s a fabulous option hot off the presses.

Text ©Philip C. Stead. Illustration ©Erin E. Stead

Three farm animals gaze out the barn door into the moonlit night. Wondering. Waiting for the sun to rise. But it’s taking longer than usual. Why? What should they do? They’re hungry, and want breakfast.

Text ©Philip C. Stead. Illustration ©Erin E. Stead

There is a silence inside of everything—

inside the damp wood of the barn,

inside the barn tools hanging from the walls,

inside the dark sky overhead.

When the wind blows,

the weathervane makes a squeak-squeak-squeak,

and there is a silence inside of that, too.

I grew up on a farm. I know that silence, and how it fills all of the nighttime shapes and sounds. This is where the beauty of the language, the beauty of the silent night and of wonder, paired with dream-like qualities of the illustrations, made me fall in love so deeply, I had to preorder the book.

The three farm animals journey to the chicken coop to ask Barn Owl what they should do about the sun. Barn Owl sends them on an even longer journey to the edge of their world. Along the way, they ask questions about dreaming, with a series of delightful speculations that set an expectation and then subvert it.

This book is the embodiment of a dream, perfect for bedtime or anytime you want to ignite a satisfying sense of peace and wonder.


Make a barnyard filled with an origami mule, cow, sheep, owl, and rooster.

After you wake up in the morning, try to remember your dreams. Ask your parents or siblings to do the same. How are your dreams different? How are they the same. Do your dreams change over time? Are they influenced by movies, books, or songs? Are your dreams scary if you’re worried or scared about something in your daytime life?

Using construction paper, make a collage of shapes that might look like sleeping giants in the dark, but are really everyday things, like vehicles or buildings during the day. Why do things look different at night?

Title: The Sun is Late and So is the Farmer

Author: Philip C. Stead

Illustrator: Erin E. Stead

Publisher: Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, 2022

Ages: Pre-K through elementary school

Themes: Dreams, farm animals, breakfast

For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.

4 thoughts on “The Sun is Late and So is the Farmer – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Patricia Tilton says:

    What a beautiful quiet book. You know how to pick them! It is important for kids to learn to be comfortable with silence. I thought at first this was a Christmas story about the birth of Jesus. Perhaps because I’m going to see “Amal and the Night Visitors” tonight.

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