Review Blog

Apr 04 2013

The light by Jo Oliver

cover image

New Frontier, 2013. ISBN 978 1921928413
(Age: 4+) Picture book. Music. Isolation. Shelter. A beautifully produced hardcover book has a lighthouse as its setting. Its isolation is apparent, with the sweep of the sea, the craggy cliffs, few animals, and howling driving wind. The lighthouse keeper and his family are shown going about their daily tasks, cleaning, preparing the lens, doing schoolwork, cooking, tending the animals and playing music together. One night as the storm rails outside, they are interrupted by a group of men whose boat has overturned. They are immediately welcomed inside the house, given blankets to warm themselves and food and drink. They explain that they had lost hope until they saw the light and heard the music, which drew them to the house.
The story of kindness to strangers is very relevant in today's society where fewer people pay attention to those around them, wrapped up in their own worlds. There is a religious undertone to the story which may suit some schools, with the image of the family saying grace before their meal, and the Biblical quote at the start, and this is made more obvious with the good Samaritan thread to the tale.
The illustrations of the setting in which the lighthouse stands are impressive, but the people come across as wooden and incomplete. There are some lovely touches to this neatly resolved story, with the beautiful architectural drawings of the lighthouse used as endpapers, the use of the music sheet behind several of the images of the family, and the glow of the lamp inside the house paralleling the glow of the lighthouse outside.
Fran Knight

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