Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Keeper of the Light

Barkhouse, Janet (Author)
Cilia, Thérèse (Illustrator)
Formac 2016. 32 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9781459504646 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, characterization, dialogue, figurative language, layout, multimodal, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

It’s 1925 and 12-year-old Sara is alone taking care of a lighthouse. Her birthday plan—to go to the mainland to see her family—gets turned around by a medical emergency that leaves her in charge of the island where she works.

Told in the third person, there’s plenty of description and reporting on Sara’s thoughts and feelings. “This was Sara’s favourite time, before the day’s work really began, and she always thought of her father. The fiery sunrise glittered off something red nearby. A rare piece of beach glass for her collection!”

The nautical material and historical context have been carefully researched and distilled, including all of Sara’s tasks related to maintaining a lighthouse. Readers are sure to learn new vocabulary: “Near the shore, Sara waited for a good wave, and then pulled extra hard on the oars. The sea swept the dory up the slipway. Sara scrambled onto the wooden poles, pulled the dory up and tied the boat fast.”

Watercolour images support the Nova Scotian tale with accurate details. Blues naturally dominate the seaside context, and the stormy sky takes on many colours. Images of Sara in her boat amid the waves are especially evocative.

Readers won’t soon forget this competent and brave girl who, in the middle of circumstances that are out of her control, rises to the occasion.

  •  

    How would your life be different if you did not go to school and worked to support your family instead?

  •  

    When Sara is exhausted and feeling despair, she relies on self-talk: “Sara, you can do it. You can. You’re almost there.” How is this like encouraging someone else? Discuss situations where self-talk can really be helpful.

  •  

    In stories, characters are often given greater responsibilities than is common for their age. Write about and share a personal experience, story or video that relates to this.

  •  

    In We Are All Born Free, by Amnesty International, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that all children have the right to an education and that adults have the right to work. Discuss whether this means that kids should be allowed to work. At what age should kids be allowed to start work? What if you live in a poor country and your family depends on your income to stay alive?

  •  Discuss what you know about lighthouses and where they can be found.
  •  

    Go for a picture walk. Discuss the characters, setting and equipment. Make predictions, then adjust them as you listen to the story.

  •  

    Compare Sara’s life to your own. What responsibilities do you have as a child? Use a Venn diagram to note your findings.

  •  

    Identify some of the self-talk that Sara uses to encourage herself in rough times. How else does she show strong character, maturity and a growth mindset?

  •  

    Compare Sara with the character of James in Boy of the Deeps by Ian Wallace, another story set in Nova Scotia. How has life changed for Canadian children in the last 100 years?

  •  

    In a group of two or three, discuss your answers to the following questions: What were the responsibilities of someone who worked at a lighthouse 100 years ago? What do you believe should have been the minimum age for someone to work at a lighthouse back then? Why?

  •  While you read, identify the moments Sara felt she was in over her head. Would you have felt the same? Why?
  •  

    With a partner, write and illustrate 3-4 additional pages after the ending, showing the exchange between Sara and the Moshers upon their return the following day.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Ethics and Religious Culture
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Personal Development