From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2—Lightships were anchored where lighthouses could not be built. They protected our ocean harbors as well as points along the Great Lakes. The last one was decommissioned in 1983, so this fascinating picture book is a piece of nautical history. Floca's watercolor drawings depict daily life aboard one of these vessels, cooking, sleeping, working, all the while rolling with the rhythm of the waves. There were many hazards involved. Big ships came too close, anchors lost their mooring, and weather caused many problems. But when the fog rolled in, the lightship sprang into action. Lights flashed and horns sounded, allowing ship traffic to make it "through fog and night, past rocks and shoals, past reefs and wrecks, past danger." The drawings are very detailed. Some pages are collages of small scenes. Many are full spreads. The sailors' facial expressions are amusing to watch, and the resident cat appears on almost every page. The front and back endpapers show a cutaway view of one of the vessels. This fascinating, little-known slice of history should prove interesting to every child who loves big boats.—Ieva Bates, Ann Arbor District Library, MI
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*Starred Review* Lightships--floating lighthouses--were retired in 1983, but they live on in Floca's handsome picture book, which uses simple words and repeated phrases to emphasize the vessels' purpose and uniqueness as well as their day-to-day operation. "Here is a ship that holds her place," begins the text, which takes children on a sensory tour of the Ambrose,
complete with the slapping of the waves on the hull, the rocking motion of the ship, the smell of the sea and of fuel, and--in one climactic blast that sends the ship's cat leaping straight up into the air--the sounding of the foghorn. Meanwhile, the ink-and-watercolor illustrations offer close-ups of the crew at work as well as wide, double-page scenes of passing ships (including the SS Ardizzone
). Varied in composition and perspective, the art shows the little ship inside and out, in summer and winter, in calm and stormy weather. Some pictures include elements of humor, while other scenes are notable for their quiet beauty. Floca explains in an informative note that before it was possible to build platforms in deep water, lightships served as floating lighthouses, using powerful lights and blaring foghorns to signal other ships. From the endpapers, showing a cutaway view of the ship, to the final phrase, "the lightship holds her place," this handsome book respects both its subject and its audience. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved