Grade 4-6-Quila MacFarlane's father tends the lighthouse on Devil's Rock, a remote island off the coast of Maine, and when her mother dies, the lonely 12-year-old assumes the role of cook and housekeeper. One day, after a ship goes down, she finds two small mattresses tied together. Inside is a baby. Now the girl has more work than ever, but Celia brings new life to the island, even giving some joy to Quila's grieving father. But then a woman arrives, wanting to say good-bye to her sister who died in a shipwreck, and Quila and Papa realize that she is Celia's aunt. Quila is torn between hating this stranger who threatens to take the child away, and loving her for the friendship she brings. Similar in theme and style to Patricia MacLachlan's Sarah, Plain and Tall (HarperCollins, 1985), this is a lovingly drawn portrait of a girl and her father struggling to cope with a devastating loss. Quila's ever-shifting feelings of resentment, guilt, and love toward her father, Celia, and Celia's aunt are perfectly captured and believable, as are her conflicting desires to be responsible and to be free to enjoy her childhood. Interspersed throughout the novel are details of the lonely, difficult life as a lighthouse keeper in 1858. Pedersen's stylized, almost folksy pencil drawings appear throughout the text. This is a compelling novel, with small suspenseful moments to draw readers in, and a brave and thoughtful heroine.
Ashley Larsen, Woodside Library, CA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Gr. 2-5. This quiet, somewhat predictable historical novel takes place in what seems to be the eighteenth-century fictional setting of a Maine lighthouse. Narrator Aquila, 12 when the story opens, mourns her mother, who has just died, but finds solace in Celia, the baby she rescues after a ship sinks. Two years pass before the baby's aunt arrives and threatens to take the child away. Aquila cannot bear to part with Celia and risks both their lives before everything works out for the best. Details about the island, the upkeep of the lighthouse, and everyday tasks that derive from life during days gone by create an effective backdrop for a story that offers just enough action in 12 short chapters to keep children involved. Like the author's Lumber Camp Library (2002) and A Doctor Like Papa (2002), this tale with a strong girl protagonist and a happy ending will appeal to historical fiction fans ready for something a shade more challenging than the original American Girl books. Kathleen Odean
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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