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The Abandoned Lighthouse
     

The Abandoned Lighthouse

by Albert Lamb, David McPhail (Illustrator)
 

A captivating daydream of a tale from illustrator David McPhail who has spent a career bringing childhood whimsy to life.

What happens when a bear, a boy, and a dog get into a boat? This charming adventure story takes a simple premise and carries it to its logical and imaginative conclusion. Told in a direct manner with whimsical illustrations from David McPhail,

Overview

A captivating daydream of a tale from illustrator David McPhail who has spent a career bringing childhood whimsy to life.

What happens when a bear, a boy, and a dog get into a boat? This charming adventure story takes a simple premise and carries it to its logical and imaginative conclusion. Told in a direct manner with whimsical illustrations from David McPhail, this picture book gem is the stuff dreams are made of.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The creators of Sam's Winter Hat contribute understated text and art to this charming small-format book about friendship and teamwork. As a bear naps in a rowboat on the beach, the tide carries the craft out to sea, and it lands at an abandoned lighthouse. The boat drifts away, but later returns carrying a boy and his dog. Glad for the company, the bear enlists the boy's help catching fish while clouds gather in the distance. In a droll scene, the boy looks aghast as the bear eagerly swallows a whole fish at dinner. Shattering the dialogue-free tale's placidity, a storm descends at night and the trio must illuminate the lighthouse beacon to warn an approaching ship. The next day, the peripatetic rowboat, as curious a character as the silent bear and boy, brings the voyagers back home. Strikingly evocative of the craggy New England coastline and infused with light—from the sun, moon, and lighthouse—McPhail's quaint, jewel-toned paintings anchor the story. The accessible sentences, early-reader trim size, and slightly mysterious setting and adventure are just right for newly independent readers. Ages 4–8. (June)
From the Publisher

“McPhail's line-and-watercolor illustrations dramatically capture both the landscape and the dreamscape of the story: lofty clouds, white-capped waves, and the undulations of the sea offer the suggestion of something ethereal while at the same time grounding the story in its literal seaside setting.” —BCCB

“‘The Abandoned Lighthouse' written by Albert Lamb and wonderfully illustrated by David McPhail, offers vicarious adventure for readers” —The Wall Street Journal

“McPhail's line-and-watercolor illustrations dramatically capture both the landscape and the dreamscape of the story: lofty clouds, white-capped waves, and the undulations of the sea offer the suggestion of something ethereal while at the same time grounding the story in its literal seaside setting.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“McPhail's pen-and-ink drawings . . .are a perfect match for Lamb's spare narrative.” —School Library Journal

“Imaginative and mysterious, this quietly told tale is pleasing in its simplicity and its childlike sense of adventure.” —Booklist

“The accessible sentences, early-reader trim size, and slightly mysterious setting and adventure are just right for newly independent readers.” —Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
Bear falls asleep in a row boat on shore which then carries him to an abandoned lighthouse on a rocky point far out to sea. The next day a small boy climbs in the same boat that has returned to shore. Gently the row boat carries the boy to the lighthouse while his little dog paddles frantically behind. He is greeted by the lonely bear. The two share a fish dinner and settle down to sleep. During the night the wind howls and a storm approaches. The little dog's barking awakes them and they see a ship coming near the rocky coast. Together boy and bear light the nine wicks of the lighthouse oil lamps and focus the beam just in time for the ship to steer away from the rocks. The next day boy and bear and dog return home via the same little row boat as the ocean liner sails safely into a harbor. For beginning readers this is a solid adventure/fantasy with endearing characters. The narrative has fluidity and while there is no dialogue, readers can readily imagine the conversations between bear and boy. The little row boat is as much a character as boy and bear and the final scene of row boat floating out on the ocean will have children speculating about its' next adventure. McPhail's pen and ink drawings with watercolor wash play with light and dark to enhance the mysterious atmosphere of this tale of friendship and the power of teamwork. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—There isn't a wasted word in this existential gem. Its main character is a mysterious little rowboat that first appears to a bear, who climbs in for a nap. He drifts to the open sea and lands on a little island, an abandoned lighthouse guarding its cliffs. The boat drifts off again and beaches itself near a little boy and his dog who, while fetching an errant ball, are similarly taken off. They, too, land on the island and are befriended by the bear. All are asleep in the lighthouse when the little dog wakes and barks a warning to his companions: a big ship, lost in a storm, is on a collision course with the island's rocky cliffs. The boy and bear manage the lighthouse light to steer the ship to safety. The next day, the little boat deposits the characters onto their home beaches where they resume their activities; the ship is safe in its harbor; the rowboat is on the waves. McPhail's pen-and-ink drawings have a dark quality even when depicting sunshine and are a perfect match for Lamb's spare narrative and purposefully underdeveloped characters. The chapter-book format might attract children for an independent read, but the story is best suited for sharing; its last page is an invitation for children to invent the rowboat's next adventure and a question begs to be discussed: Is the story a dream or a life lesson?—Lisa Egly Lehmuller, St. Patrick's Catholic School, Charlotte, NC
Kirkus Reviews

Poorly paced text delivers a choppy story unlikely to engage readers despite McPhail's familiar, endearing art.

An abandoned rowboat, not the titular lighthouse, is the link between an amiable bear, a little boy and his dog. The text begins abruptly, announcing that the bear goes to a beach waterfall "to wait for fish to come tumbling down." A rowboat appears on the facing page, and because it "smelled good" the bear decides to nap in it. The sleeping bear in the fragrant boat sails off, arrives at the abandoned lighthouse on the next page, finds good fishing in nearby rocks and doesn't notice when the rowboat again floats away. The boy and his dog find it, and while they are sleeping within it, they float to the lighthouse as well. No longer abandoned but occupied by bear, boy and dog, the lighthouse allows the threesome to save an approaching ship when they light the "nine wicks of the giant oil lamp" and use a "giant reflecting mirror" to make the light gleam.

Quite as abruptly as it began, the story leaves the characters back where they started, while the ship is safely tugged into harbor and the little rowboat sails away. An unsatisfying read. (Picture book. 4-6)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596435254
Publisher:
Roaring Brook Press
Publication date:
06/07/2011
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
6.51(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.36(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

ALBERT LAMB is a cartoonist, writer, and musician living in England.

DAVID MCPHAIL published his first children's book, The Bear's Toothache, in 1972. Since then, he has written and/or illustrated more than fifty books including No!, published by Roaring Brook Press. He lives in New Hampshire.

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