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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Lampie and the Children of the Sea
by Annet Schaap
Age Range: 12+
Every evening Lampie climbs to the top of the lighthouse to light the lantern that warns ships to beware of the treacherous rocks ahead. One stormy night disaster strikes: Lampie forgets to replenish the matches and a massive storm is brewing. Despite her valiant attempt to reach the town and buy some matches she loses them to the wind on her return home resulting in the lantern not being lit and a ship crashing against the rocks.
Lampie’s amputee and alcoholic father is punished for failing to carry out his duties as the lighthouse keeper. He cannot leave the lighthouse and he must struggle to the top of the lighthouse each night while Lampie is taken away to live and work at the Admiral’s Black House. The Admiral is away at sea, but rumour has it that there is a monster living in the tower where no one goes including most of the staff. Lampie is a brave and inquisitive girl and before long she is making her way up to the tower to see what really is there. Soon Lampie is drawn into a world of mermaids and pirates, where she must fight to protect her new-found friend, for freedom and the right to be different.
Dutch author and illustrator Annet Schaap’s debut novel, exquisitely translated by Laura Watkinson, is a compelling, magical and moving read. Although slow-paced, its layered plot unfolds beautifully. Refreshingly original, it moves easily between the harsh reality of Lampie’s life of poverty and dealing with her father’s disability and dependence on alcohol to the fairy-tale element of delving into the lives of mermaids and pirates.
The compassion and warmth of the staff at the Admiral’s house, Lampie’s understanding of Lenny, who has severe learning disabilities, and the ‘Fish Boy’, who everyone refers to as a monster, is never sentimental. Schaap’s glorious pen-and-ink illustrations enhance the atmospheric and lyrical text to perfection.
Schaap is one of the Netherland’s best-loved illustrators and is the winner of four major Dutch children’s awards, including the Gouden Griffel Prize for best Children’s Book of the Year.