Lucy Goes to the Lighthouse by Grant Sheehan, illus. Rosalind Clark, Phantom Tree House (distributor Publishers Distribution Ltd)
The first book in the Lighthouse Series was Ivan and the Lighthouse. I can locate three favourable reviews of it online (including my own, written for this blog and posted on 1 September 2017) but it does seem to have stayed under the radar somewhat, which is a shame. It illuminates a little-known part of New Zealand maritime history.
This book is written in a story-within-a-story format, with the main character, Lucy, being told the interesting tale of Mary Jane Bennet who was New Zealand’s first and only woman lighthouse keeper. She and her family lived in harsh conditions at the Pencarrow Lighthouse in the 1850s.
Its physical shape makes the book look like a picture book, but there is a lot of text on each left-hand page alongside the right-hand illustrations – in fact, so much text that it’s coming close to being an illustrated storybook. It would be best for mid-to upper primary ages, definitely not pre-schoolers.
The text is straightforward, the stylised illustrations are fresh and simple; and the design of the book is eye-catching (I love the linen-look textured backgrounds). There’s plenty of history but not a lot of action or excitement, so teachers and librarians will need to promote the book to avid readers (probably girls) who like stories of the old days.
PS. The next book in the series will be out in October 2018.
ISBN 978 0 9941285 3 9 RRP $25 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman