Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall
Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall is everything that is wonderful and perfect about picture books, including a trim size that suits its subject. Her colorful, vibrant illustrations draw you in and her out of the ordinary story keep you reading and thinking about her book long after you have turned the last page. Hello Lighthouse reminds me of the books from my childhood that left the most lasting impressions on me - those of Richard Scarry. Blackall's book gives readers an inside glimpse into a world that is unknown and yet comfortably familiar at turns. Best of all, there are cutaway scenes (and other great round perspectives) of life in a lighthouse, something Scarry was great at. For a glimpse into the inspiration and creation of Hello Lighthouse (it started with a lithograph - a cutaway of a lighthouse - that Blackall purchased at a flea market) don't miss this interview at Seven Impossible Things.
Blackall's story of a lighthouse keeper is also the story of a lighthouse keeper and it begins on the endpapers. The lighthouse sits on the edge of the world and is, "built to last forever." She captures the solitary life, the tending and the logging of everything that happens. Storms come and go, the tender (the boat that delivers supplies to the lighthouse keeper) comes and goes and one day, his wife arrives.
Hello Lighthouse follows their lives as the start a family. Things change and things stay the same. But one day, the coast guard arrives and installs a new light, with a machine to run it, and the keeper writes in his logbook one last time as he and his family move to the mainland. The penultimate illustration in the book, a three-page gatefold, shows the lighthouse, shining its new light out to the sea, and a small house on the cliffs, shining a light toward the lighthouse. Blackall closes with the illustration below, with the closing endpapers dedicated to an author's note, "About Lighthouses," where she shares details of her research, including the fact that the lighthouse in her book is based on one she stayed in on a small island at the northern tip of Newfoundland!