Ivan and the Lighthouse is the very well written story of a boy growing up in Devonport around the turn of the century. Ivan’s Father is a Lighthouse Keeper. Every night he rows his wee rowboat out to the lighthouse to take care of the light and ensure the various steamers and sailboats plying Auckland Harbour stay safe.
Ivan spends his days at school daydreaming of rowing out to the lighthouse with his Dad (what small boy wouldn’t!). His Mum isn’t so keen. But Ivan finally gets his wish on his birthday. And what he gets to see at the lighthouse is, literally, out of this world!
So I’m liking just about everything to do with this little treasure of a story. Firstly the illustrations by Rosalind Clark are just beautiful. The full page imagery just about tell the story on their own. The images are full of emotion and life. This makes the whole book feel of very good quality.
The story is so well written. It’s concise, but actually a little bit longer than your average picture book. It’s aimed at 5-7 year old readers, so the language is fuller, and the story is a bit more in-depth. These are the stories I like to read to my 3 year old. Even though she doesn’t understand all of the language yet, the story is more intense and lasts longer, making story time even more special.
I think what I like most about it though is that it’s all based on real events. The family lives in Devonport, over looking Rangitoto, and Ivan’s Dad works on the Bean Rock Lighthouse; a real working lighthouse in the Auckland Harbour from 1909 to 1911. So this immediately becomes a Kiwi storybook. It’s worth owning for that fact alone.
It’s obviously the boy in me reviewing this one. The story is full of rowboats, and sea, and sharks and the stars. I can definitely feel Ivan’s wanderlust as he gets in trouble for daydreaming at school. But it’s a bit more than just the adventure. This is a New Zealand story, well written, beautifully illustrated. This is a real keeper. The sort of book you can buy children as a gift and know it will be very well read.
Ivan and the Lighthouse – Written by Gran Sheehan – Published by Phantom Tree House – RRP $25