“Lighthouse Christmas” is a heartwarming story that pays homage to lighthouse keepers and their families who are usually stationed on the isolated islands.
Frances and her younger brother Peter live on the remote island lighthouse of Ledge Light with their father, who had taken a transfer from the mainland to the lighthouse when the children’s mother died. As Christmas approaches, the island gets cut off from the mainland due to bad weather at sea. Food supplies are short, and the usual treats and luxuries associated with Christmas are nowhere to be found. The children’s only chance to celebrate Christmas in style is to take a boat to the mainland to visit their aunt. Besides, will Santa even know where to find Frances and Peter?
The night before the children are to leave, a torrential storm sets in, and the lightkeeper notices a struggling boat out to sea. While Peter is asleep and blissfully unaware of the raging storm, Frances is asked by her father to keep the lighthouse light burning while he saves the drowning man from the raging sea. Mr Dunlop, the fortunate survivor who is now also cut off from the mainland, is welcomed into the Ledge Light family to celebrate Christmas.
During a very modest celebration, the children notice a small plane circling low above the lighthouse. To their delight, the plane drops a package full of goodies – they find tea, coffee and sugar as well as crayons, books and toys. This plane is part of the Flying Santa service launched in America on Christmas day of 1929 and operated to this day, except during the World War II years of 1941-1944.
“Lighthouse Christmas” comes with an informative author’s note at the back about the history of the Flying Santa service. It may be a real eye-opener for some children to see how other families spend Christmas, and perhaps appreciate the sacrifices that those dedicated families make while serving the seafaring community.
“Lighthouse Christmas” author, Toni Buzzeo lives in Massachusetts and is a New York Times bestselling children’s author, having published twenty-nine children’s picture books. A former librarian and college and high school writing teacher, Toni is the recipient of the Caldecott Honour (Caldecott Medal recognises the preceding year’s “most distinguished American picture book for children”).
If you would like to see where the magic happens for this talented author you can see this video of the construction of her writing cottage. Every writer’s dream…I’m so jealous. I think I’ve decided that I too need a writer’s cottage. C’mon Universe, I’m putting it out there:)
Nancy Carpenter is a New Yorker who began her career as an illustrator for the New York Times but has since illustrated more than forty children’s books. She has been honoured with two Christopher Awards and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award.
I love her style of illustrations. The interesting points of perspective she has chosen give this story a heightened sense of drama. Her ink lines and colour wash have a warm vintage feel and her characters emotion shines through every page. Her ability to invoke a mood with light and shadow reminds me of another artist I adore called Pascal Campion. Like Pascal, she also works digitally and uses a multimedia approach to her work, by creating the ink lines on paper and then scanning them into photoshop for the colour wash. You can see a video of her technique at work here.
“Lighthouse Christmas” is a feel-good Christmas story that reminds us all that the most important thing at this time of year is not necessarily the presents and self-indulgence, but to appreciate what we have and spend time with those we love.
For other great Christmas and winter-themed books click here.