Lampie - glorious reading
Updated: Oct 2, 2020
This book made me very happy.
It is the debut novel of Annet Schaap, a well loved Dutch illustrator. Published by Pushkin books and translated beautifully from the Dutch by Laura Wilkinson, this book is a real delight.
The motherless heroine, Lampie, is the daughter of a lighthouse keeper. She is determined, grumpy, but hugely likeable. Every evening she must light the lighthouse lantern for her father to warn ships away from the rocks. One stormy night, she runs out of matches and a ship is wrecked.
Forced to leave her father, she is sent in disgrace to work as a maid at the Admiral's Black House, where it is rumoured a monster lives in the highest tower. Lampie soon discovers this is not the real truth. What follows is a fairytale adventure complete with mermaids and pirates. The writing sweeps you along with it's beauty and warmth and there is a diverse and unique cast of characters, each fully realised and believable. Emotions are dealt with honestly, and there is both joy and sadness making this a book that both children and adults can enjoy.
I really could not put this book down and I know of two other bookseller friends who felt the same way. Here's a small sample,
'She looks around. The lighthouse is as far away as the harbour, both out of reach for such a small girl in such a big sea. But she does not need to go home now, of course, not without matches.
The water rises higher and higher, and her feet lose their hold on the stones. She can swim, but she doesn't.
Fine, she thinks, then I'll come to you, Mother.
Her father is sure to be sad, but he was sad already. She let herself sink.
She does not feel the cold bodies coming to swim beneath her in the water, the cold arms taking hold of her. Swirling green hair, like seaweed, billows in the waves.
Voices chuckle and chortle: "Oh my, a soul, a little drowned soul!"
Her head is lifted above the waves. She is pulled to the lighthouse island and dumped onto the stones.
"No two-legs in our water!"
That is where Lampie is lying now, beside her own front door, while out at sea a ship hits the rocks.'
As an aside, I should say that I am a huge fan of Pushkin Children's Books. Created in 2013, it is a publisher that embraces children's books from different languages and cultures. I have read books published by them that are set in India and Japan and translated classics from Brazilian and Dutch writers. They never seem to disappoint and are well worth searching out.