Lighthouse and the Little Boat

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. May 2024. 32p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063114234.
PreS-Gr 2–In a book that in art style alone pays homage to Virgina Lee Burton’s Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel and The Little House, Lighthouse and a small boat named Brightness conjure up a friendship. In that friendship are parallels to the trials of growing up and to the bittersweet parental push toward a child’s self-reliance. Brightness wants to go beyond the harbor, and one day, does. Lighthouse is okay with that, until summer seas give way to wintry ones and the little boat is missing. Then Lighthouse has to summon strength and shine bright, providing the guiding light for Brightness’s return to safe waters. This story has everything a preschooler could love: a buddy story, soft old-fashioned drawings, an adventure with just enough suspense, and a hopeful ending that Brightness will be encouraged to see beyond the horizon, but can always return to Lighthouse’s glow. The writing is spare and fluid, making this ideal for reading aloud to a group or just one child. The illustrations have the sweep and grace of old watercolors in a book that no one will read just once.
VERDICT A reassuring book for the very young that allows for ambition, curiosity, and homecoming in equal measure, and the knowledge that someone watchful is nearby, if needed. Lovely.

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