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Author: Anna Egan Smucker

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Publisher: Wayne State University Press,

Material: hard cover

Summary: It is 1871, and the South Manitou Light is the only home Jessie Lafferty has ever known. When Jessie doesn't mail her mother's letter asking the Lighthouse Service for assistance, she creates a dangerous situation for her family and the ships that rely on the light. This chapter book for preteens is about growing up and taking responsibility for the actions we take.

Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 9 to 13

Interest Level: 8 to 13

Age of Child: Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™

Young Reader Reaction: This story was well written capturing a young girls heart as she faces tasks and tries to stay strong. The details were great and the beginning lured the readers in. Some parts had too many details but was mostly good. At some points the story got boring. Overall this story was a good book for children in 5th-6th grades.

Adult Reader Reaction: What a delightful book. The plot is tight and the narrative most descriptive. Even without having lived at a lighthouse, you get a sense of what life was like. It is easy to empathize with both Jessie and her Mother.

Pros: The story moves quickly and offers wonderful descriptions of life at a lighthouse, you even get a glimpse of the Chicago Fires. The appendices offer additional details and photos to help round out the story.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Buy! This is a book everyone can enjoy. If you leave near or love lighthouses, you'll want this in your collection.


Educational Themes: Although a fictional tale, there is plenty of historic detail about life in a lighthouse and the Chicago fire.

Literary Categories: Fiction - historical fiction, adventure, growing up

Date(s) Reviewed: April 2005

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