A Lighthouse Story is a delightful book to read with younger children or for those in primary school to read on their own
A Lighthouse Story
Holly James & Laura Chamberlain
Young children’s stories about the lonely, gallant existence of lighthouse keepers look set to have a continuing life of their own, decades after the automation of every UK lighthouse and foghorn.
Rather as picture book pirates continue to sport their c17th tricorn hats and breeches whilst actual pirates have taken to high-speed RIBs and AK47s, the lighthouse-keeping Grandad in this story with his white beard and stripy jersey will be accepted as an archetype.
Many young children who go nowhere near the sea will have read Rhona and David Armitage’s classic Lighthouse Keepers Lunch series – now into its fifth decade.
For older readers Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s Julia and the Shark gave the theme a modern twist.
Holly James and Laura Chamberlain position their Lighthouse Keeper’s Story in the cosy mid twentieth century ambience but use the familiar location to convey some useful educational ideas.
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As Eva sets off to spend time with her Grandad on his windswept rock, the book feels like a story but her thirst for information ensures that this is a non-fiction book where information and explanation about lighthouses is being accessibly passed across.
The retro drawings are colourful and realistic with plenty of detail for adults and children to enjoy together.
Grandad takes the opportunity to tell Eva the story of Grace Darling as well as educate her about the importance of the curvature of the earth impeding distance vision.
She learns about Fresnal lenses, the importance of different lighthouse ‘signatures’ and how a lightning conductor works.
There’s a section on the history of lighthouses, drawings of famous lighthouses from across the world and, yes, an honest explanation that most lighthouses no longer need keepers and can be computer-controlled from hundreds of miles away.
I’d certainly envisage myself spending plenty of time enjoying this book together with children aged 4-7.
There’s enough worthwhile content for independent readers in the older primary school years. Recommended.
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