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
By Brian Floca. Published by Simon and Schuster, 2007. 48 pages, hardcover.