Sunday, December 14, 2014

Book Review: The Light at Tern Rock by Julia L. Sauer (1951)

The Light at Tern Rock is a very short novel by Julia L. Sauer which received the Newbery Honor in 1952. The story follows a young man and his aunt, who are asked to look after the lighthouse at Tern Rock while the lighthouse keeper takes a few days of leave. The keeper promises he will return by December 15, but when this date comes and goes, and more and more days pass, Ronnie realizes he will miss the Christmas festivities with his schoolmates and be stranded on the rock for the holiday instead.

I appreciate this book for its economy of language, its carefully presented moral, its unapologetic religious viewpoint, and its unexpectedly emotional ending. No one writes books like this anymore. For kids ages 8 and up, this is a much better lesson in the true meaning of the Christmas season than How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The story focuses not just on giving, but on forgiving, and on preparing oneself, wherever one happens to find himself, for the coming of Christ on his birthday. The story might seem slow to some kids, even with the low word count, but it would work nicely as a family read-aloud on Christmas Eve, or a component to a CCD or Sunday school lesson. Also see my review of The Birds' Christmas Carol for more inspirational Christmas reading. 

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