Children's Literature Bookshelf

“Hello, Lighthouse” by Sophie Blackall. Hachette Books, New York, 2018, 48 pages, K-3.

“Hello, Lighthouse” by Sophie Blackall.
Hachette Books, New York, 2018, 48 pages, K-3.

Lighthouses stand as lonely sentinels for seafaring vessels. They warn of approaching dangers and serve as welcome guideposts for mariners trying to find their way home.

Frequently located on isolated islands or peninsulas, lighthouses have a stark beauty for the lost. As ships near rocky shoals, the lighthouses give hope and assurance to travelers. Home is near and safety is at hand. Famed author/artist, Sophie Blackall has created a warm and beautiful book about lighthouses and those manning warning lanterns. The name of this inspiring book is “Hello, Lighthouse.”

A Coast Guard boat takes a young man to a lonely island to work at a lighthouse. There, he quickly sees the many tasks involved in all the arduous work that he must do. There are wicks to keep trimmed each day so the lighthouse beacons can be seen for miles at sea. The oil must be poured into the basin of the lamp and carefully monitored throughout the long days and nights.

The bells must be rung in the nights to warn ships of approaching dangers as they near the shore. In the winter, the keeper must chip away all the ice that blocks the light projection of the carefully tended lamps. This is dangerous because it can entail clamping onto the side lighthouse’s exterior while scrapping off the stubborn ice.

But this is also lonely work, and filled with hours of boredom. To pass the time, the man plays cards, reads books and keeps a careful log of all the activities in the lighthouse. He writes letters to a woman he loves and sends them on the supply ship.

When the provision ship brings him supplies one day, he receives a wonderful answer to his letters. A lovely young woman has agreed to become his wife and live with him at the lighthouse. Now he has a companion and the couple live happily in the circular rooms of the lighthouse. His joy becomes greater when his wife conceives and has a baby in the lighthouse. Who knew that a lighthouse keeper would also have to become midwife?

But as time goes on, technology begins changing lighthouses. After one day of carefully monitoring the sea, the lighthouse keeper spies the Coast Guard approaching the island. Something is about to happen.
What changes for the lighthouse keeper? Who watches over the safety of the ships coming home from the sea? How is his family effected? Have you ever had something happen that changed your life? What did you do? What finally happens at the lighthouse? To find out, go to the library and read this warm and compassionate book, “Hello, Lighthouse” by Sophie Blackall.

“Hello, Lighthouse” won the Caldecott Medal as the art book making the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature in 2019. Sophie Blackall has written many uplifting books including the highly acclaimed 2016 Caldecott Winner, “Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear.” Her books frequently tell uplifting stories centered on love and dedication. In “Hello, Lighthouse,” the colors in the book and the relationship of the lighthouse keeper and his wife, for their marriage, and their work is heartfelt. This book would be a delight to share with the younger members of your family. I hope you get a chance to read this beautiful book. Enjoy!

Terrence Nollen




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