The Lighthouse Cat
Author: Sue Stainton
Illustrator: Anne Mortimer
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books (2004)
Hardcover, $16.99, 32 pages
Being a lighthouse keeper is a lonely job that requires much dedication. Each night the lighthouse keeper climbs up, up, up the stairs to light the twenty four candles in the lighthouse beacon. Each morning he climbs the stairs again to extinguish the candles and perform the daily maintenance that keeps the light visible to passing ships.
One afternoon, the supply ship arrives with groceries for the lighthouse keeper. In addition to the usual food and supplies, the supply ship is also carrying a stowaway: a small silver cat. The keeper names the cat Mackeral and the cat becomes a steadfast companion to the lighthouse keeper.
Mackeral has many adventures on the island. He makes friends with puffins and seagulls, helps the keeper collect driftwood that is used to make furniture, finds a message in a bottle and scans the sea for passing ships.
During a very stormy night, wind extinguishes the candles in the lighthouse tower. The keeper tries to signal passing ships with a hand lantern, but the wind blows that out as well. Seeing this, Mackeral springs into action. He climbs to the top of the lighthouse tower and meows loudly. Eleven cats from nearby homes answer his call and join him in the lighthouse. Moonlight is reflected in the cats' eyes so that there are twenty four small glowing lights in the lantern room and ships can safely navigate to port.
Colorful illustrations and the repetitive language ("Up, up, up") will make this book a read aloud favorite.
The lighthouse featured in The Lighthouse Cat was inspired by Smeaton's Tower, which stood for over 100 years just south of Plymouth, England. The lighthouse was lit by twenty four large candles.
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