HELLO LIGHTHOUSE by Sophie Blackall. New York: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2018. 48p. ISBN 978-0316362382 hc. $18.99 PreS-Gr. 3 E PIC
Readers in the Great Lakes area, as well as those on the east and west coasts, have always had an affinity for lighthouses, even though they are now mechanically operated with electric lights. Writing in metered verse, Blackall takes readers back in time to the life of a lighthouse keeper, working alone in a remote tower keeping the Fresnel lighthouse lens clean for ships to see its warning light. The keeper is soon joined by his wife who helps take care of him and assists with the duties of the job throughout the seasons. Eventually a child arrives, as does a letter telling the keeper and his wife that the conversion to automated lighthouses has begun. The family moves to the mainland, but stays within sight of their beloved lighthouse. The illustrations visually depict the constant motion of wind and water, contrasting between gentle waves and the crashing power of a storm surge. Even the circular vignettes of life inside the lighthouse are surrounded by water currents moving the story along. It's no surprise that Blackall received the 2019 Caldecott Medal for the beautiful illustrations in soft colors and layers of texture. She also holds a 2016 Caldecott Medal for illustrating FINDING WINNIE written by Lindsay Mattick.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI