It's official! Today is the publication day of Molly and the Lighthouse by Malachy Doyle, exquisitely illustrated by Andrew Whitson; published by Graffeg Ltd! I have been waiting to wish a very Happy Book-Birthday to this, the third book in the wonderful Molly stories (fourth, if you count the special download colouring/activity book, Molly and the Shutdown...which I do. Wonderful story!) And it was well worth the wait!
In case you haven't been reading them, here's a little catch-up: Molly lives on a very small island with her Mum, fisherman Dad and a wonderful collection of island residents, including her best friend, Dylan. Their life may seem quiet enough, but so far they have faced ferocious storms, helped a stranded whale, been caught in the covid_19 shutdown on their isolated little island home; all while displaying great fortitude and a fantastic sense of empathy and community. And now...there's trouble at the lighthouse.
author: Malachy Doyle
illsutrator: Andrew Whitson
Graffeg Ltd (23 July 2020)
ISBN: 9781913134914
The lighthouse was one of Mollys' very favourite things on the whole island. Every night, it would go round and round, shining its' light into her cosy room, keeping her company and making her feel safe. She would count...one, two, three...and by the time she got to seventeen (always seventeen), there would be the light again. But one night, Molly woke and realised something was very wrong. She counted and counted, but the light didn't appear! Molly woke her mum immediately. The island Dads were off fishing and if the lighthouse wasn't working, they wouldn't be able to find their way. While Mum ran to the harbour wall to light a signal fire, Molly and Dylan rushed to the lighthouse, only to find the lighthouse keeper, Old Jamesie collapsed on the floor. It's up to Molly and Dylan to save the day!
One thing that I find truly unique in these books is the perfection of the voice, which expresses every aspect of Mollys' life through a childs' perspective. And Molly is a wonderful character. She is bold, brave and full of life, with freedom and a curious nature that expresses her consideration of the people and world around her. And she is encouraged to be herself, to follow her heart and that bountiful curiosity, as every child should be. Here, we see the things that bring comfort, concern, fear and joy plainly, as if through the eyes of this young girl without any 'adult interpretation' of what might be going on in her head. This is rather rare. And in fairness, you'll find this gift in each and every one of Malachy Doyles' books. But in the Molly stories, it really shines.
While the story takes place on a small island, the adventure is expressed in a way that brings the reader, wherever they may live, into this world. When the lighthouse light stops shining, we sense the urgency and drama of when comfort is taken away. But we also see the understanding that Molly herself can do; will do something about it. The sense of responsibility and empathy to others is strong, that feeling of coming together to solve a problem. In Andrew Whitsons' masterful hand, the illustrations tell the story as well as the text, with that same sense of childlike wonder and expression. Each page is a work of art that is perfectly married to the tale. They express the adventure, drama and security of this piece of the world in a way that makes it every childs' story. The nuance of line, texture and colour, paints a world that is both of the imagination and of the real world.
As lighthouses may be unfamiliar to young children, there is a wonderful page at the back of the story; 10 interesting facts about lighthouses. It gives some details that are sure to spark interest, a few that even someone like me, who has long been fascinated by lighthouses (I've always wanted to live in a lighthouse), never heard before.
This book is a pure joy; adventurous, intriguing, heart-warming. Both contemporary and timeless, it joins its' 'older sisters' in the series as being a book that will long be cherished and read over and over again.
Molly and the Lighthouse is available in English, Irish (Muireann agus an Teach Solais) and Welsh (Mali a'r Goleudy). It is also available as an ebook.


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