Book Review: Ivan and the Lighthouse

ivan

Ivan and the Lighthouse – Grant Sheehan
Published by Phantom Tree House

Ivan is happy enough at Devonport School, but he finds it hard to concentrate, because through the classroom window he can see, gleaming in the harbour, Bean Rock Lighthouse, where his father is the keeper, and that’s where he really wants to be…

Ivan and the Lighthouse is a lovely story about a small boy who dreams of accompanying his father to work as a lighthouse keeper. It is set in 1910, and “loosely based” on real events, and while it doesn’t read as a history book, it gives a great perspective on a little slice of life in Auckland at the turn of last century.

The arrival of this book was very timely, as we’d just returned home from a school holiday road trip. Our first stop had been to The Catlins, where we walked to the lighthouse at Nugget Point. We’d spoken a lot about lighthouses while we were there, and Ivan and the Lighthouse served as a great reinforcer of the mini history lesson the boys had enjoyed (?!) while we were away.

It’s well-written and the illustrations by Rosalind Clark are gorgeous and very appealing. It’s wordier than your average picture book – aimed at the 5-7 year age group – my four-year-old enjoyed it as much as my six-year-old. They loved exploring the detail on each page, and the drama of a hawk in hunt, a grounded ship, hungry sharks and Halley’s Comet was right up their alley. Virtually every page was a little boys’ dream, with boats and animals of all sorts; the illustrations are mostly double-page, and alone tell an expressive and exciting story. Paired with rich and adventurous language, this is a story that will appeal again and again with each reading.

Thank you to the team at Phantom Tree House for our lovely review copy.

Family Fun: Monarch Cruise

If you ever visit Dunedin, you should book a cruise on the Monarch.

We were lucky enough to win a one-hour family voucher at a quiz night, and we had an amazing afternoon cruising the Otago Harbour, looking out for seals and albatross.

As you can see, those big, beautiful sea birds are great flirts.

IMG_8262IMG_8268IMG_8272IMG_8273IMG_8280IMG_8287IMG_8298IMG_8304IMG_8305IMG_8307IMG_8310IMG_8316

| An Autumn Holiday |

We took the boys on a mini holiday over ANZAC weekend.

We spent a day in Queenstown, watching boats, climbing trees, and buying wine.

We did our first whole-family walk up Mt Iron (the littlest one made it all the way to the top; the biggest faceplanted onto a rock and is now sporting an impressive black eye), scootered alongside Lake Wanaka, and climbed things we thought we couldn’t climb.

We recharged our batteries, ignored much of the outside world, enjoyed the autumn sunshine, and returned home feeling rather relaxed.

It was blissful.

IMG_8163IMG_8165IMG_8168IMG_8205IMG_8208IMG_8216IMG_8224IMG_8229

There and Back Again: road tripping in New Zealand

14 days, 2400 kilometres, two calm ferry rides, one horrible virus, one broken contact lens, and countless family memories.

Dunedin to Waverley and back again by car, with various side trips along the way.

What a way to spend the school holidays.

Dunedin – Kurow – Lake Tekapo – Christchurch – Blenheim – Waverley – Wellington – Hanmer Springs – Methven – Dunedin

Hakataramea Valley Hakataramea Valley Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo Lake Tekapo Lake Tekapo Kaikoura Fur seal, Kaikoura Moa Brewery, Blenheim Moa Brewery, Blenheim Virginia Lake, Wanganui Virginia Lake, Wanganui Virginia Lake, Wanganui Wellington Hanmer Springs Hanmer Springs Hanmer Springs Hanmer Springs Terrace Downs Terrace Downs