The puffin keeper

Michael Morpurgo

Book - 2022

"This is a story of a life-changing friendship, a lost puffin, and a lonely artist. It's the story of an entire lifetime, and how one event can change a life forever. From masterful storyteller, Michael Morpurgo, and world-class illustrator, Benji Davies, comes a magical new story. This truly beautiful tale will enchant readers of all ages."--

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Historical fiction
Illustrated works
Toronto : Puffin Canada 2022.
Main Author
Michael Morpurgo (author)
Other Authors
Benji Davies (illustrator)
Item Description
Originally published: London : Puffin, 2020.
Physical Description
90 pages : color illustrations ; 23 cm
Issued also in electronic format
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Benjamin Postlethwaite keeps watch in a remote lighthouse on the coast of England. When a terrible storm threatens to crush a vessel offshore, he quietly does what needs doing--he rows out and saves the 30 passengers. Among them are five-year-old Allen Williams and his mum. When the lighthouse keeper gifts Allen with a painting of a ship, he sets in motion a lifelong friendship and fascination with boats. The narrative follows Allen as he grows and later returns to the lighthouse, where he and Benjamin rescue a wounded puffin and experience the effects of WWII. Morpurgo has crafted a tale with a classic feel, told with a simple, straightforward, and spare exposition. Bringing it all together are the delightful illustrations, by award-winning artist Davies, which literally color the moods of the story, from whimsical to worrisome and so much in between. This work successfully evokes another time and emanates friendship and strength of character. Share this as a read-aloud or with that special reader looking for a gentler read.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Striking the tone of a fireside chat in this winning story of an enduring friendship, narrator five-year-old Allen Williams recalls the time he and his mother were rescued from a shipwreck near Cornwall's Scilly Isles. During the event, the brave, taciturn lighthouse keeper Benjamin Postlethwaite, who rows the boat's passengers to safety on Puffin Island, makes an indelible impression on the child. Twelve years pass: after a privileged if not always happy upbringing, Allen finally realizes his dream of returning to Puffin Island. His reconnection to Postlethwaite is immediate ("I been expecting you," the lightkeeper says) and deepens through a shared love of painting and literature (Allen teaches Postlethwaite to read) and the saving of a wounded puffin--the first of many such birds to find shelter on the island. Morpurgo's (War Horse) spare, deeply felt prose, with undercurrents of the otherworldly, creates an irresistible momentum for this elegant story of the sea and a destiny fulfilled. Davies's (Snowflake) empathic portraiture of the largely pale-skinned cast, thrilling seascapes, and heart-touching puffins recalls the superb visual storytelling of The Storm Whale. An afterword explains that the novel is an 80th anniversary tribute to Puffin Books. Ages 9--12. Author's agent: Veronique Baxter, David Higham. Illustrator's agency: Bright Agency. (Feb.)

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Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 3--6--Tossed into each other's paths by a turbulent sea, a stout-hearted lighthouse keeper and a young boy make an indelible mark on each other's lives in this stirring tale. Benjamin Postlethwait lives a solitary life as the keeper of a lighthouse on Puffin Island off the coast of England. Despite being named for the birds who once inhabited it in droves, Puffin Island has not been home to puffins for many years. One stormy night, Ben heroically rescues a group of 30 seafarers, among them a young boy named Allen Williams. Taking shelter in the warmth of the lighthouse, the boy is enthralled by the keeper's paintings lining the walls. Upon the boy's departure, Ben gifts Allen one of his paintings, and with this gift, an artist is born. Allen and his mother continue on their journey to the mainland, where Allen's subsequent childhood years are rocky, buoyed only by his passion for art. At the conclusion of his schooling, Allen finds himself compelled to return to Puffin Island--and there his friendship with Ben is cemented in the rescue of a lone puffin. Thus begins many years of tutelage, friendship, and the return of puffins to Puffin Island. Morpurgo's narrative is propelled by small revelatory moments between characters: the gift of a painting, the rescue of a bird, a boy teaching an old man how to read. This work, while melancholy in parts, will certainly appeal to young readers, especially fans of historical fiction. Davies has a keen ability to render tempestuous and placid scenes with equal emotion. His digital illustrations' vintage, painterly quality perfectly suit the text. VERDICT Whether on land or at sea, this tale of lasting friendship delivers adventure and charm in spades. A welcome addition to most collections.--Sarah Simpson

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Review by Horn Book Review

Morpurgo writes a deliciously old-fashioned story to celebrate Puffin Books' eightieth anniversary, naming his main character after the founder, Allen Williams Lane. The story begins when a lighthouse keeper makes a daring sea rescue after a ship founders; the survivors include five-year-old Allen Williams (who narrates the story) and his mother. The solemn lighthouse keeper, Ben Postlethwait, makes a big impression on Allen, especially when Ben gives the boy one of his paintings. Throughout his childhood, the painting consoles Allen as he copes with such tribulations as a stern grandfather, an abusive governess, and a challenging boarding school. The story follows Allen to adulthood, when he returns to the island, and he and Ben become firm friends. The two nurse an injured puffin back to health and bring the puffin-less island back to life. Davies's atmospheric illustrations depict roiling seas and English landscapes, as well as Allen's own paintings of ships and seascapes. With short chapters punctuated with lots of color illustrations, the story, with its Dickensian overtones and wholly satisfying conclusion, is good both for reading aloud and for independent reading. Susan Dove Lempke May/June 2022 p.151(c) Copyright 2022. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

When the ship carrying 5-year-old Allen Williams and his mother founders off Cornwall's Scilly Isles, lighthouse keeper Benjamin Postlethwaite comes to the rescue. Allen's English father has died, and he and his French mother are going to live with his paternal grandparents on Dartmoor. After sheltering in the lighthouse, whose walls are covered in Benjamin's paintings of boats, Allen is sent away with the gift of a small work painted on a scrap of wood. This secret treasure and memories of the comfort of that night sustain Allen through his mother's depression, life with unaffectionate grandparents, and banishment to boarding school. His letters to Benjamin are never answered, but at 17, Allen finds his way back. The lighthouse is no longer in use; however, there is an injured puffin--the first on Puffin Island in over a century. Benjamin and Allen nurse him back to health, the question of the unanswered letters is solved, the puffin returns with friends, and the peaceful idyll is interrupted only by World War II. But happier times are in store. Warmhearted, sincere, and nostalgic but never treacly, the gentle text is elevated by color illustrations showing towheaded Allen growing from boy to man along with irresistibly charming puffins and evocative landscapes. The book is dedicated to Allen Williams Lane, the author's father-in-law and founder of Penguin Books; aftermatter describes the Puffin imprint's history and impact on children's literature. A memorable story of the healing powers of art, nature, and human kindness. (Historical fiction. 7-11) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.