Big Red Ship
Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Cooper found a children’s book about lightships to complement his story on page 56. This tales features beautiful paintings and a simple story that should appeal to readers, young and old.
Author of several children’s books, Brian Floca has a knack for celebrating his subjects by distilling their virtues down to the bare essentials. Whatever is cool about steam trains, rocketing to the moon, or working aboard a lightship at sea, Floca pinpoints and illustrates beautifully. And like any book geared toward kids, the author follows the model of the best Pixar animations by creating a story that is equally accessible to the parents (or grandparents), who have to endure the same words and outcome after a hundred readings.
In Lightship, Floca paints a precise picture of the story of Ambrose, the true-enough tale of the Coast Guard-operated lightship (LV-87) that was stationed in Ambrose Channel, New York harbor’s main shipping choke point. While the words he writes are minimal, they are lyrical and convey a poetry of motion, between the rocking of the ship and the clockwork routine of the crewmen working aboard. Floca’s easy verse, though, is only part of the story, as his true acumen lies in his skill with the brush. On each page he treats his bright red subject in a variety of sea conditions and perspectives, both inside and out, from Ambrose rocking in the swells to her horn blasting to assist helpless ships in the fog. He paints all of his scenes with the care displayed by someone with true affection for his subject, and the cartoon style should appeal to young and old.
Simon and Schuster, simonandschuster.com and also available for $10.99 from iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Google Play Books.