A delightful, historical fiction picture book set during the holiday season, Lighthouse Christmas captures a sister and brother’s excited anticipation during their very first winter in their lighthouse home.Frances, and her younger brother, Peter have lived on the island with their father since their mother died a few months ago.As Christmas approaches, Peter is concerned about how they will celebrate Christmas – will Santa know where to find them?Recently, the severe weather has isolated the lighthouse from the mainland.Supplies are running low and their father is tired, and busy working. Frances has assumed the responsibility for cooking, cleaning and looking after her younger brother.Their only hope for a Christmas celebration is to take a boat to the mainland and celebrate with their aunt.
Peter begins making Christmas on his own, even including their one-eared cat – knowing in his heart that Santa will finish up. Although they will have to leave their father, Frances agrees to celebrate on the mainland.One evening, during a terrible storm, her father rescues a stranded boat, and Frances must be responsible for keeping the light burning in the lighthouse.As they storm rages on, they welcome the stranger into their home.At this point, they realize that they will not be able to travel back to the mainland, and they will include their guest in their meager Christmas preparations.As the storm moves up the coast, Peter and Frances find a pine bough and make their own little Christmas tree.To their surprise, a small plane drops off a bundle for the lighthouse family including supplies, toys, books and a Bible for the family.
With the ending based on a true story of the Flying Santa Service, this delightful story epitomizes the isolation and simple lives of lighthouse families in the early 20thcentury.Buzzeo captures the excitement of the holiday, and reminds us of the importance of simple Christmas traditions and hospitality.Nancy Carpenter’s outstanding watercolor and ink illustrations capture the expressions on the children’s faces, and depict details both inside and outside the lighthouse which evoke a strong feeling of time and place, as well as the blustery isolation of the lighthouse island.A terrific choice as a read aloud, Lighthouse Christmas can be used as a springboard to discuss holiday traditions or even as a spark to further research on lighthouses.The book concludes with an author’s note about the Flying Santas and a website link for additional information. Highly recommended for children in grades 1-4.
Author: Toni Buzzeo
Publisher: Dial Books, 2011
Reviewed by: Kristine Wildner, Holy Apostles School, New Berlin, Wis.