Monday, March 17, 2008

Lightship by Brian Floca. (writer and illustrator) Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. 2007. On shelves now.

Here is a ship that holds her place.
Everyone knows about lighthouses. Standing tall to shine a becon of warning of dangers on the coastline to ships. Or to mark the opening of a safe harbor. But did you know that there are places where lighthouses cannot be buil? These danger spots were marked by lightships.

These ships anchored in one spot. Day in and day out, they stay there. Summer or winter, they stay there. And when fog rolls in and ships cannot see the danger, that's when the lightships light their light and blow their foghorn.

Brian Floca does a wonderful job showing normal shiplife going on in his illustrations, complete with the ship's cat, while the lyrical easy words describes their action. (or lack of action) Is that a sailor getting seasick?

I think it's great that although the words say, "The higher the waves,...the harder it is to (do this or do that) ... to visit the head. The picture itself is of the bathroom. Oh. Head = bathroom. No long explainations -- just using the word "head" as the last word of the sentence. Then the reader's eye has to look at the illustration before reaching the next sentence, which is positioned below the illustration.

Lovers of detailed cutaway illustrations will love the endpapers which show all the parts of the ship, inside and out. Librarians will love the fact that the endpapers look alike -- but the ship is positioned off center with seabirds to the left or right of the ship, allowing us to tape down the bookcover over the birds in the picture, leaving the complete ship in view both in front and in back.

Kudos to the art designer (or to the illustrator) who took this normal library problem (of bookcovers covering up parts of the endpapers) into account. Too many beautiful endpapers have been lost under library secured bookcovers. This one is perfect.

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