My enormous thanks to Poppy Stimpson at Pushkin Press for sending me a copy of Annet Schaap’s children’s book Lampie and the Children of the Sea in return for an honest review.
Lampie and the Children of The Sea
Every evening Lampie the lighthouse keeper’s daughter must light a lantern to warn ships away from the rocks. But one stormy night disaster strikes. The lantern goes out, a ship is wrecked and an adventure begins.
In disgrace, Lampie is sent to work as a maid at the Admiral’s Black House, where rumour has it that a monster lurks in the tower. But what she finds there is stranger and more beautiful than any monster. Soon Lampie is drawn into a fairytale adventure in a world of mermaids and pirates, where she must fight with all her might for friendship, freedom and the right to be different.
My Review of Lampie and the Children of The Sea
Illiterate and poor, Lampie is about to start a new life not of her choosing.
What a glorious book. If Lampie and the Children of the Sea doesn’t take its place in the canon of children’s classic books there is no justice. Annet Schaap has captured the very best in children’s writing, with peril, adventure, mythology, good and evil, and distilled it into a mesmerising and captivating tale that children of all ages will love. I adored it because not only did it transport me back to my own childhood, when I first discovered the love of books, but Lampie and the Children of the Sea is a stunning and spellbinding narrative for readers of all ages.
There is everything a reader could want in Lampie and the Children of the Sea. The plot races along, elevating the heart rate and ensnaring the reader. Atmospheric illustrations enhance the story and the quality of Annet Schaap’s descriptions ensures a vivid setting both on land and water. Her use of the senses brings the writing alive and although this book is in translation, I didn’t once feel there was anything awkward. It’s beautifully written and translated, making for a smooth and affecting read. Laura Watkinson has translated the original flawlessly.
The characters are fantastic. Annet Schaap understands so intuitively what it is like to be different or an outcast, that she made me long to put my arms around Edward and Lampie and comfort them. Physical, mental, social and educational differences are explored thoroughly, ensuring that any reader can identify with so many of the people here. I loved the feminist element to Lampie too. She demonstrates that lack of formal education does not mean a person is stupid, and her feisty attitude is a wonderful role model to other girls. I also loved the concept that strength doesn’t have to be physical and the development of Edward throughout the story is incredibly touching.
In fact, I experienced many emotions reading Lampie and the Children of the Sea and I think that’s one of the aspects that makes it so special. I was horrified by Lampie’s treatment from many of the adults around her, saddened by Edward’s aggression masking terrible unhappiness, afraid at what might happen to the characters at different parts of the story, gladdened by some of the outcomes and amused by some of the events. This really is a magical book.
As Lampie and the Children of the Sea comes to a satisfying conclusion, there is the potential for further adventures and I am desperately hoping that this isn’t the last we see of Lampie and of Annet Schaap’s wonderful writing. I thought Lampie and the Children of the Sea was just fabulous.
About Annet Schaap
Annet Schaap is one of the Netherlands’ best-loved illustrators. Lampie and the Children of the Sea is her debut novel and won four prizes in the Netherlands and Flanders, including the Gouden Griffel for the best Dutch children’s book of the year.