I will be surprised if a more exquisite picture book is published this year…[Blackall's] illustrations evoke American folk art, early Renaissance painting and traditional Japanese seascapes, but in a synthesis all her own. The story is straightforward…but the book's real meaning is in the careful patterning of Blackall's text and illustrations, which evoke universal themes: steadfastness and change, distance and attachment, nature in all its animate and inanimate tumult. Children will be fascinated by the practical details of lighthouse tending and delighted by Blackall's evident affection for her subject.
The New York Times Book Review - Bruce Handy
Painted with the featherlight touch that distinguishes Caldecott Medalist Blackall’s work, this graceful account of a lighthouse keeper’s life celebrates a lost era. While it was lonely and sometimes dangerous, watching the lighthouse was monastic in its simplicity: “He tends the light and writes in the logbook.” The lighthouse keeper readies his home for the arrival of his wife, who nurses him when he falls ill; then he helps her as she gives birth to their first child. Soon the family receives word that the lighthouse is to be fitted with a mechanical light, and their idyll comes to a serene end. Many spreads, delicate as painted porcelain, depict the lighthouse amid the breaking waves and changing life of the ocean. Seals bask, whales pass, and the aurora borealis flickers overhead. Repeated images of circles echo the lighthouse’s circular rooms, from vignettes framed with nautical rope to a breathtaking sequence of the lighthouse-keeper’s wife walking through her labor, each moment like the hand on the face of a clock. It’s a jewel of a creation and a gift to those who dream of retreat. Ages 4–8. Agent: Nancy Gallt, Gallt + Zacker Literary. (Apr.)
Praise and accolades for Hello Lighthouse: An IndieBound Bestseller An Amazon Best Book of the Year So Far "I will be surprised if a more exquisite picture book will be published this year...Children will be fascinated..." New York Times Book Review * "Blackall's charmingly old-fashioned art style is beautifully matched to this nostalgia-rich story, which imbues an antiquated place with warmth and wonder." Booklist, starred review * "A delightful bedtime read perfect for one on one sharing." School Library Journal, starred review * "It's a jewel of a creation and a gift to those who dream of retreat." Publishers Weekly, starred review * "A fascinating, splendidly executed peek into both the mundane and the dramatic aspects of lighthouse life." Kirkus Reviews, starred review "Blackall's accomplished illustrations are a mix of homey detail and spectacular scenery." Horn Book "Blackall's soft yet precise line and watercolor illustrations provide inviting details." BCCB Praise for Finding Winnie: A #1 New York Times bestseller and Winner of the 2016 Caldecott Medal A New York Times Notable Children's Book of the Year *"The sum total is as captivating as it is informative, transforming a personal family story into something universally resonant." Horn Book (Starred Review) *"Little ones who love Milne's classic stories will be enchanted by this heartening account of the bear's real-life origins." Booklist (Starred Review) *"A perfect melding of beautiful art with soulful, imaginative writing, this lovely story, penned by Colebourn's great-great granddaughter, is ideal for sharing aloud or poring over individually." School Library Journal (Starred Review) *"The book strikes a lovely, understated tone of wonder and family pride...[Sophie Blackall] proves that she's equally imaginative at chronicling straight-on reality too." Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Gorgeously illustrated...[a] delightful telling." New York Times Book Review
PreS-Gr 3—On the highest rock of a tiny island at the edge of the world stands a lighthouse. Every day and every night, the lighthouse guides the way for passing ships, as its keeper tends to the light and writes in his guidebook. Over time, the lighthouse becomes a constant fixture in the middle of the sea as endless waves, ships, winds, whales, fish, storms, and keepers come and go. Here, Blackall tells the story of a lighthouse and its keeper, and how they both serve the sea. In the end, a machine is able to tend the light and the keeper must move on. But he will be forever connected to his lighthouse. The keeper's own light across the bay shines back at the lighthouse, saying "hello!" Gorgeous and appealing illustrations done in Chinese ink and watercolor make readers feel as though they are inside the lighthouse along with the keeper, surrounded by the beauty and drama of the ever-changing sea. A spread full of information about lighthouses for those who seek further knowledge is appended. VERDICT A lovely picture book, recommended for all libraries. A delightful bedtime read perfect for one on one sharing.—Elizabeth Blake, Brooklyn Public Library
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)