A fascinating, splendidly executed peek into both the mundane and the dramatic aspects of lighthouse life.

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HELLO LIGHTHOUSE

This tribute to lighthouses of an earlier era focuses on one lighthouse and its dedicated keeper.

Perched “on the highest rock of a tiny island / at the edge of the world,” the lighthouse shines for seafaring ships. A new keeper arrives, continuing the endless routine of polishing the lens, refilling the oil, trimming the wick, winding the clockwork, painting the round rooms, fishing, making tea, sending letters to his wife (in bottles), and writing daily in his logbook. One day, a ship delivering supplies brings the keeper’s wife! The keeper rings a warning bell in fog, rescues wrecked sailors, and logs his baby’s birth. When he’s ill, his stalwart wife tends the light and maintains the logbook. Eventually, a mechanical light replaces the keeper. While the spare, unemotional text resembles a keeper’s log, the book’s vertical orientation echoes a lighthouse tower. Rendered in Chinese ink and watercolor, precise, detailed illustrations present the lighthouse surrounded by patterned blue, green, or gray waves depending on the weather or season, reinforcing its solitary enterprise. A cutaway interior view exposes a compact, contained world. Close-ups of the keeper and his wife (both white) in porthole-shaped frames and from unusual aerial views emphasize their isolated, intimate, circular environment. An “About Lighthouses” section adds insightful detail.

A fascinating, splendidly executed peek into both the mundane and the dramatic aspects of lighthouse life. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-36238-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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