Author/Illustrator: Brian Floca
Publication Info: A Richard Jackson Book | Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books, 2007
Genre: Historical fiction
Intended audience: Ages 3-7 ( I think it’s more of interest to ages 4 and up)
Themes/topics: History, vehicles, helping others, perseverance
Synopsis and opening line: Floca’s Lightship is a lyrical history of lightships, lighthouses on the sea. These ships first served in America in the 1820s and marked the way in areas where lighthouses could not be built. Working aboard a lightship was a dangerous job requiring dedication and teamwork in close quarters. Floca chronicles the crew, routines and challenges of a lightship called The Ambrose, relying on extensive historical research.
Here is Floca’s first line: “Here is a ship that holds her place. She has a captain and a crew: helmsman, oiler, engineer, deckhand, fireman, radioman, messman, cook, and cat.”
The book received starred reviews and numerous awards:
• A Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
• Booklist’s “Top of the List” Youth Picture Book for 2007
• Winner of the 2007 Cybil Award for Best Nonfiction Picture Book
• An American Library Association Notable Children’s Book
• A New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing Selection
• A Banks Street Best Books of the Year selection
• A Junior Library Guild Premier Selection
• A 2009-2010 Buckaroo Award Nominee (WY)
contains a labeled schematic of the lightship, as well as an author’s note briefly explaining the boats’ history. Floca’s Web site
includes a coloring page, additional reading resources, notes on where you can visit retired lightships, as well as plans for building your own lightship.
Why I like this book: How do I love Brian Floca? Let me count the ways. As in his Apollo 11 book, Moonshot, Floca marries science-based history with simple poetry. His books constantly remind me that writing nonfiction for elementary schoolers does not mean throwing a constant stream of facts at them. Simple, well-written phrases convey the mood and just the right amount of information.
Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site
Published by Kirsten W. Larson
Kirsten W. Larson used to work with rocket scientists at NASA. Now she writes books for curious kids. She’s the author of WOOD, WIRE, WINGS: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane, illustrated by Tracy Subisak (Calkins Creek, 2020), A TRUE WONDER: The Comic Book Her Who Changed Everything, illustrated by Katy Wu (Clarion, 2021); THE FIRE OF STARS: The Life and Brilliance of the Woman Who Discovered What Stars are Made of, illustrated by Katherine Roy (Chronicle, 2023), THIS IS HOW YOU KNOW, illustrated by Cornelia Li (Little, Brown, 2024) and THE LIGHT OF RESISTANCE, illustrated by Barbara McClintock (Roaring Brook, 2023) along with 25 other nonfiction books for kids. She's a geek, LEGO lover, and sock enthusiast. Find her at kirsten-w-larson.com or on Twitter/Instagram @KirstenWLarson.
View all posts by Kirsten W. Larson
22 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: Lightship”
My son would LOVE this book! Thank you for sharing.
Julie, you have to get him Moonshot too. It is by far one of the best nonfiction PBs ever.
Wow! This book sounds fantastic and really interesting! (And so funny that Kelly posted Moonshot the same day :)) We go to Nantucket every summer and last year went to the Shipwreck Museum for the first time. It was fascinating and we learned a lot about lighthouses and life saving around Nantucket. My son would have loved this book when he was little. Thanks so much for sharing!
I just love Brian Floca. He has such talent and writes such captivating books. Moonshot is one of our favorites.
That is so interesting. I love the choice of words, it really does read like a poem. TBR pile, thanks!
Floca has quite a talent. Seriously, pick up anything he’s written/illustrated.
Excellent choice! I have heard of Floca before this. Now I know I will be buying his books for a long time to come. I truly appreciate this well thought out review. *waving*
Robyn, he really is a master of nonfiction/historical fiction.
My grandson would absolutely love this book! I’m going to check it out this week. Great gift book. I’m not famliar with Floca, so will have to change that! Thank you for introducing us to this wonderful book and unique author.
Hi artwork is amazing, and he has a wonderful way with words. He has a lot of books that young boys would love.
I had no idea there were such things as lightships – how cool! Thank you for sharing this book, I’m very excited to find it.
I guarantee you’ll love it. It’s a fairly quick read.
This sounds like a wonderful book! I have to look for this. Thanks for adding it to the list!
I haven’t read too many historical fiction pbs, I think it is time to branch out! This one, with it’s beautiful art, will get the ball rolling. Thanks Kirsten!
I just love walking away from a book and thinking about how I learned something. Fiction can do that as well, of course.
Kirsten, what a coincidence-we both posted a Brian Floca book this week! I haven’t heard of this one, but now I want to get it!! Floca is masterful when it comes to sharing historical non-fiction in picture book format. Thanks for sharing this one!
Kelly, Moonshot is one of our favorites, and the first Floca book we ever read. Every time I read it, I am amazed at how well he writes…and draws!
I’ve never heard of lightships — thank you for increasing my knowledge, and introducing us all to what sounds like a wonderful book!
It’s a pretty interesting concept and a dangerous job for sure.
This sounds like a really great book. I don’t know too much about ships and the sea. I think I’ll really like this!
Kirsten, I love your last lines about conveying information to students. So true! And I also love history and boats, so I bet I’d really enjoy this one (oh, yeah, and maybe the kids would too). 🙂 And how great is it that the cat is counted among the crew!
This looks wonderful. I had not discovered Brian Floca. This book will be the perfect introduction. Thank you for reviewing it.