Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Remember the whimsical scene "Brazzle Dazzle Day" from the 1970's Disney movie, Pete's Dragon?  Pete, an orphan boy, is helping Lampie (Mickey Rooney) - an old lighthouse keeper - and his daughter Nora (played by Helen Reddy) - clean up the lighthouse, Disney-style: dancing all the way.

I recalled this scene during our recent trip to Hawaii, where we stopped by a beautiful lighthouse on the island of Kauai.  This Kilauea Lighthouse has been standing sentry out on a point as a lone beacon to ships since May, 1913.
Kilauea Lighthouse on Kauai.
The old (which needs refurbishing)
 and the modern new signal light.
The grounds around this lighthouse are home to many species of birds, including the "Wedge-tailed Shearwaters", which make their nests by tunneling down into the dirt, below the ground cover plants that are all around the point.  We saw many of them nesting along the pathways...

There is something safe and hopeful about lighthouses, that children really relate to. Below I've shared two of our family's favorite books about lighthouses.  The first is a picture book and the second a historical easy-read chapter book...

The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, by Hidegarde H. Swift, illustrations by Lynn Ward. This lovely book about a "fat and red and jolly" little lighthouse and a great gray bridge was first published in 1942.
source here
Interesting true story about this particular lighthouse:
In 1921 it was relocated from Sandy Hook New Jersey (where it had been built in 1880) to Fort Washington Park, on the New York bank of the Hudson, where it became "Jeffrey's Hook Lighthouse" - the only one on the island of Manhattan.  When the George Washington Bridge opened in 1932, the lighthouse was decommissioned.  In 1951 public outcry prevented it from being sold at auction, and it was given instead to the city of New York.  It eventually fell into disrepair and its light was left dark. It was restored in the 1980s and was designated as a city landmark in 1991. Then in 2002, marking the sixtieth anniversary of the publication of this book, the lighthouse, dark since 1947, was outfitted with a new lens, allowing its beacon of light to shine across the waters of the Hudson River again.

Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie, a well written and nicely illustrated "Beginning to Read" book by Peter and Connie Roop, illustrated by Peter E. Hanson. This simple but true story brings new meaning to the concept of duty. It's about a courageous young girl - Abbie - who is determined to keep her father's lighthouse lamps burning while he is away on the mainland.  She is resolute about her responsibility, despite of the fact that a terrific storm threatens to sweep her family's little house into the sea, the fact that her mother is in bed sick and must be kept warm, and that even the fate of their chickens is in her hands. (Based on a true story of an 1856 storm off the coast of Maine.)

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