Books, History

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Lightship

Title: Lightship
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)
Resources: Lightship 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.

22 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: Lightship”

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

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