"City lights flicker in the dusk like winking fireflies.
I hold my Auntie Maita's papery hand. Together we stare at the shiny photo in her lap, touched so often with hope, the edges curl."
A lonely girl, daughter of lighthouse keepers, wishes for companionship. Her wish washes ashore the morning after a fateful storm when the family discovers a baby tucked inside a sea chest. The sisters grow up to share the delights of the island and the joys of sisterhood. The story is based on a Maine legend, but the author skillfully weaves together a second storyline about the descendants of the orphaned baby and a new adoption about to take place.
What I Love:
I love how the author flashes back to the legendary scene, and how she has drawn on her own sibling experience to speak to children awaiting a new baby. She knows precisely the loneliness of the island girl. She understands, too, the anticipation and anxiety felt by a family expecting a child through adoption. Mary Grandpre captures the wind and waves and nostalgia so needed for this book with her sweeping colors. Her somewhat exaggerated style is toned down here to give The Sea Chest a ring of truth.
The manuscript for The Sea Chest won the Barbara Karlin Grant in 2000.
1.You may want to read this touching interview with Toni Bizzeo by Cynthia Leitich Smith.
2. For more information, read the Kirkus review of The Sea Chest.
3. You can find more about the 19th century Legend on which this story is based, at PBS.
4. Visit Hendricks Head Light where the story takes place.
5. Try your hand at a gingerbread lighthouse like this one from Coastal Living.
6. If you enjoyed this book, here are a few more Perfect Picture Books you might enjoy.