During World War Two, coastal New Zealand was on high alert due to threats of invasion. Imagine living on a lighthouse then...
For Frances and her family, living on a remote lighthouse station, World War Two is both far away and scarily close. There are rumours of submarines in the Pacific. The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor, taken Singapore and bombed Darwin... so what's to stop them invading New Zealand next?
I just love this range of books. They are so interesting to me. I learn new things about our country and history whenever I read them, even if I knew something about the subject. In this book, I learnt about how Lighthouses were manned historically. I had no idea that the families were rostered, and travelled about to do the work. I had no idea we had so many lighthouses across New Zealand either. There is a great map in the back.
The main focus of this book is the lighthouse, and the way of life for the family. It got me thinking about how weird life would be, if you had to wait for a boat to arrive to get a newspaper. Imagine being months without anything new to read. All the children in the book live an amazing life on the island. The freedom they had, to roam and explore. Such a different pace, even with correspondence lessons.
Then there is the war and impending concerns about a Japanese invasion. The book gave some great detail about how the coat watchers worked. Besides that, I think the best thing about this book are the characters. Stephen was really interesting, and the way the family work around him and his needs. For a young female reader, this also touches a little on puberty but in a quiet sort of way. I really enjoyed reading the conversations and being in Frances' head. Another great book in this range.
I really enjoyed this book but I'm the kind of person who always wants to know where the story is based so tried to determine where in New Zealand Francis and her family were based but with my limited knowledge I couldn't, that didn't take away from the story.
In the start the isolation sounds great, no big cities and all the residents know each other since they are on an island with only about 3 other families but with isolation comes problems. The characters were well written and you could imagine being there wondering what was happening and if the war would come knocking or not.
Francis has to grow up fast as she fills in for her mother who is having a difficult pregnancy and finds that a woman's work is never done. There were parts that were rather funny but then there were parts that made me want to cry as Francis grows in character and comes to grips with life. I really appreciated the photos at the end of the book and the annexes telling some of the facts around New Zealand and the war.
Since I wasn't born in New Zealand I will be trying to get a copy of the rest of the My New Zealand story books as the book was easy to read and follow. Highly recommend to others.
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