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Birdie's Lighthouse

Birdie's Lighthouse

5.0 1
by Deborah Hopkinson, Kimberly Bucklen Root (Illustrator)

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December 1, 1855
The sea is never still. Sometimes it roars so load that it drowns our voices. Mama says there hasn't been a storm this fierce since the night I was born. She thinks it too dangerous for me to go to the tower again. Yet what else can I do? I'm the lightkeeper now.

On the tiny lighthouse island that is her family's new home, Birdie


December 1, 1855
The sea is never still. Sometimes it roars so load that it drowns our voices. Mama says there hasn't been a storm this fierce since the night I was born. She thinks it too dangerous for me to go to the tower again. Yet what else can I do? I'm the lightkeeper now.

On the tiny lighthouse island that is her family's new home, Birdie faithfully keeps a journal. She writes down everthing: the change of seasons, the rhythms of the sea, and all that her father, the lightkeeper, is teaching her. But then one stormy night, her father is taken ill. And only Birdie knows how to keep the lighthouse's strong beam running. Will she be brave enough to guide the boats safely into harbor?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"Inspired by stories of real 19th-century lighthouse heroines, this atmospheric book uses a diary format to shape a portrait of a brave and likable girl," wrote PW. "The accomplished art underscores the immediacy of the narrative." Ages 4-9. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
In this engaging fictional diary, readers meet ten year old Birdie, on Turtle Island, off the coast of Maine, in 1855. Her seaman father, the lighthouse keeper, becomes ill, and it falls to Birdie to keep the wicks trimmed, the reflectors shined and the oil full. Simply written as a series of journal entries, the story is compelling as Birdie overcomes fear, nor'easters and loneliness. Misty pen and ink drawings reveal a by-gone era and capture the emotions of a brave young lady. Birdie is a composite of several female keepers who are mentioned at the conclusion.
Children's Literature - Jessica Deutsch
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this rugged, inviting tale is that real-life lighthouse heroines inspired it. Written as a diary of a brave little girl's tenth year, which she spent with her family keeping watch on Turtle Island, children will love the perspective and the combination of drama and tenderness that mark her days and nights. While providing a real feel for the water and its mysterious ways, the book may also be an effective introduction to the concept of "journaling," and an invitation to its readers to try chronicling their own adventures and emotions.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
This story features brave Birdie, 10, who keeps the light glowing in the lighthouse when her father, the lighthouse keeper, is ill. She writes her story in diary form which provides vivid images of her daily life from December 1855-1856. The book is shaped like the lighthouse, tall and long, so that we feel the narrow space in which the family lived and worked. The pictures are tempest-tossed like the story. Birdie is a take charge, courageous heroine.
Children's Literature
Bertha, "Birdie" Holland" lives by the sea in Maine with her family. Her father is a fisherman and as she anxiously waits for him to come home Birdie writes about her life in a diary that her father gave her for her tenth birthday. The whole family is afraid for Birdie's father and hope that the lighthouse on Turtle Island will help guide him home. When Birdie's father comes home they discover that they need not worry about him going out fishing any longer for he has a new job as the lighthouse keeper. The whole family will be moving to lonely Turtle Island to begin a new life. It is not easy adjusting to their life on the barren little island and Birdie misses some of the things that she had in her old life. At the same time she discovers new pleasures and treasures in her new home. Perhaps the best part of things is when Birdie has to become her father's helper. Then one night a northeaster blows up and Birdie has to tend the light on her own. This is a spirited tale gives us a picture of a fascinating way of life which is, alas, mostly a thing of the past. It also shows us how a young person can summon up great courage in a time of crisis. 2000, Simon and Schuster, Ages 5 to 9.
—Marya Jansen-Gruber
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4Written in diary form, this picture book tells the story of Birdie Holland, daughter of a lighthouse keeper on a tiny island off the Maine coast in 1855. Her brother helps their father in the lighthouse until he becomes a fisherman and leaves the island. Then Birdie must take his place. When her father becomes ill during a severe northeaster, she must carry out the duties alone. Toward morning, she sees that her efforts have saved her brother and his boat. The small details of this excellently written and researched tale, such as how the lamps were tended, the need to make sure they never go out, and the descriptions of the family's life on the island, make this story come to life. An author's note explains that it is based on the lives of actual lighthouse heroines. The detailed watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations are a perfect match for the narrative. They depict each period detail with clarity and lend atmosphere to Birdie's adventure, capturing the dark hues of the sea and the stark Maine landscapes and interiors. A shining bit of historical fiction for elementary audiences.Anne Parker, Milton Public Library, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Root's evocative watercolor and pen-and-ink drawings in deep sea blues and greens are perfectly allied with Hopkinson's stirring tale, set off the coast of Maine in 1855, of a girl's life as a lightkeeper.

Bertha Holland, known as Birdie, starts a diary when she's ten that takes readers through the year her father leaves sailing to become keeper of a lighthouse. Her brother, Nate, becomes a fisherman, but Birdie loves the look of the sea from the tower and the work of caring for the lamps, filling them with oil, and making sure they burn through the night to guide sailors to safety. When her father takes ill, she keeps the lamps working throughout a fierce storm, and finds that she has guided to harbor Nate's fishing boat. Period details and a spirited heroine with a clear voice make this book a genuine delight. Hopkinson notes that although Birdie is a fictional character, she was inspired by several real lighthouse keepers, among them Grace Darling of England and Abigail Burgess Grant of Maine.

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Deborah Hopkinson is the author of numerous award-winning children's books, including Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, winner of the International Reading Association Award, Girl Wonder, winner of the Great Lakes Book Award, and Apples to Oregon, a Junior Library Guild Selection. She received the 2003 Washington State Book Award for Under the Quilt for the Night. She lives in Oregon. Visit her on the Web at www.deborahhopkinson.com.

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Birdie's Lighthouse 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago