Hello Lighthouse

Caldecott medalist Sophie Blackall (Finding Winnie) illuminates the isolated and ritualistic life of an old-fashioned lighthouse keeper, showing the allure of the iconic structures.

New to his post, the young lighthouse keeper does the constant repetitive tasks necessary to keep his beacon lit--polishing the lens, refilling the oil, winding the clockwork--his actions shown in arched cutaways and porthole insets. In time, his industrious wife joins him, helping with regular tasks and tending the lighthouse when her husband lies ill. Soon, under the serpentine display of an emerald aurora, the lighthouse says "Hello! ...Hello! ...Hello!" to their first child. Around their red-and-white home, the sea shifts through the seasons. Fishscale ripples glow in rosy sunset tones, storm waves evoke Japanese woodcuts and "[t]he sea turns into a carpet of ice" for lounging leopard seals. When the Coast Guard brings an automated light, the family leaves for the mainland, but a gatefold spread shows the lantern from their house on the coast shining a greeting back to their old home.

Blackall's Chinese ink and watercolor illustrations feel nostalgic and comforting, showing a small but homey microcosm warmed by rugs, wooden furniture and a coal stove. The circular shape of the lighthouse walls acts as a motif, reappearing as the frames of insets, the wagon-wheel pattern of the quilt and a reflecting telescope lens. An author's note on lighthouses provides a more in-depth overview of the daily life, duties and dangers of lighthouse keepers. This romantic glimpse into history will captivate readers age four through eight. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth services division manager at main branch, Dayton Metro Library

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