Lucy lives in a seaside cottage in present-day Eastbourne, near Wellington. Not far away, high on a cliff, is the old Pencarrow lighthouse.

Lucy has never been there, and when her mother suggests a visit Lucy is not so keen, but she decides to go along anyway.

When they arrive at the lighthouse with its spectacular views out across the sea to the South Island, Lucy is intrigued and asks about the keeper. Her mother then tells her the amazing story of Mary Jane Bennett, who 150 years ago was New Zealand’s first and only woman lighthouse keeper.

This is the second book in the lighthouses series (read our review of Ivan and the Lighthouse here). The books bring to life the history of New Zealand lighthouses, the keepers, and their families.

What I’m liking

As with Ivan and the Lighthouse, this is a thoroughly engaging, and historically important children’s story.

Rather than a direct historical account, however, this is a fictional story. We’re taken back in time through Lucy’s Mother’s storytelling. This is a really clever way of thinking about the story through Lucy’s eyes. In some ways it makes the historical story feel more ‘real’.

And the two stories, the fictional Lucy, and the historical account of Mary Jane Bennett, are just as fascinating as each other.


Along with the textured illustrations by Rosalind Clark, this book is a great way of engaging children with New Zealand of the 1850s. It’s a fascinating look at life in that era. And the fact the lighthouse keeper was a woman, just makes it all the more intriguing. This is a great edition to the lighthouse series.

Lucy Goes to the Lighthouse – Written by Grant Sheenan – Published by Phantom House – RRP$25


Jarrod is a quintessential Kiwi Dad. He lives in Manakau, and works from a home office, overlooking his chickens and bees. His inspiration and motivation in life come from his wife and two children.

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