Lampie lives in the lighthouse, alone with her dad, until a ship is wrecked in a storm one night because the lighthouse fire was not lit. Her father is punished, and Lampie is sent to work in the creepy Black Manor, where a monster lives in one of the towers. But Lampie knows how to deal with monsters…
This Dutch children’s book is an instant classic. Though there are moments of light-heartedness and children’s logic, at its core, it is a beautiful story of how people deal with sorrow and how you should not try to be something you are not. It is heavy for a children’s book, and scary at times, but there are also moments of fuzziness to balance it out.
The book has a great setting the way only children’s books have them, featuring a coastside town with a sheriff and a schoolteacher with equal authority, the lighthouse and the Manor, a circus, and most important of all: the sea.
Lampje is written in a child’s voice and I will admit that that was an element I didn’t particularly like, but it helps keep the books tough topics manageable.
This book is a definite recommendation for readers (or listeners!) of about 10 years old.
The instant I picked up Lampje, I knew it was the kind of book I wouldn’t be able to put down.
What I loved about this story is the way it tiptoed between reality and fantasy. At first, I wasn’t too sure whether this book was going to be a fantasy book at all, but between the little rhymes and the nostalgic atmosphere that was set, I was immediately sold.
Having won the Gouden Griffel, this isn’t just a children’s book. The writer doesn’t shy away from harsh realities such as child abuse and alcoholism. Lampje is a character who tries to take fate in her own hand, but doesn’t always succeed, for she is still a child.
The mix between fantasy, harsh realities and children’s literature works perfectly. It makes the story bittersweet at times, but there is always a silver lining.
This book is one I will reread again and again. I will read it to my children, and recommend it to anyone who asks what to read next. A gemstone of Dutch children’s literature.