nonfiction nuggets…floating beacons of the seas

Lightship, written and illustrated by Brian Floca

For hundreds of years, lightships anchored in hazardous waters, beaming warning lights, blaring  fog horns, transmitting radio signals, all in an effort to protect other vessels.  Tethered by massive anchors, these ships rode the waves far beyond the reach of any landlubber-lighthouse, marking channels, reefs, and other dangers.  In the worst of weather, when other ships were seeking shelter, the lightships were needed more than ever, which meant their crews were exposed to the fiercest of storms. 

Brian Floca’s book, Lightship, describes the experiences of the crew on one lightship.  We learn about the tiny quarters for sleep and work, the different tasks of the crew members, and the wild, wet weather they have to endure.  Most of all we learn that the main job for a lightship is to…wait.  To keep still.  To steadily hold her place.  Come what may.  Floca manages to tell us all sorts of interesting things in his very clear, sparse text.  A very young child can enjoy this book.  A lengthy, highly-interesting Author’s Note at book’s end fills in many details for older readers. 

The watercolor-and-ink  illustrations are outstanding.  Drenched in light, Floca’s clean lines and subtle colors beautifully depict the many moods of sea and sky, as well as the nautical details of the ship, and the pleasant fellows who tend her.  A cutaway diagram of the whole ship is perfect for those of us curious about chain lockers, windlasses, and such. 

When my son was growing up, he was fascinated by all things nautical.  Especially for kids who share that interest, this book is a winner.

Amazon link: Lightship