The book tells the story of Billy Bray, a young boy who lived off the coast of Massachusetts. His father and a friend named Silas were responsible for tending the island lighthouse. Billy liked living there and he liked helping his father, but he did not like when storms came. Whenever a storm came, Billy could hear loud shrieks from the tower. This scared him very much. He was sure the lighthouse was haunted. Silas teased Billy that those sounds were the cries of fishermen lost at sea. Even though Billy's mother told him that was just foolish talk, Billy wasn't convinced.
One winter night Silas became very ill and needed to be taken to the mainland. Billy's dad took him, leaving Billy and his mother to care for the lighthouse. When his mother sprained her ankle in the snow, Billy alone was left to face his fears. Before leaving their house, Billy read the story of Daniel in the lions' den from his father's Bible. He realized that Daniel must have been scared, but he entered the lions' den knowing God would protect him. Billy grabbed his winter gear and asked God to be with him. Then he stepped outside and headed to the lighthouse.
With a storm coming, the shrieks from the tower were louder than ever. Billy knew sailors depended on the lighthouse; they depended on him now. He carefully pressed on, step by step. Finally, when he reached the top, Billy realized that the frightening noises only came when the wind was strong. There weren't ghosts in the tower! Just a strong winds blowing through the metal frame. He laughed and was no longer afraid. Later that night Billy's father returned home, thanks to the lighthouse Billy had tended. He hugged Billy and praised him for being so brave. Billy responded: "I'm not really brave. But with God's help, I can do anything.
What I Like: This book emphasizes exactly what I've been trying to teach our kids: that bravery isn't the absence of fear, but the strength to do the right thing in the face of fear. I especially like the note to parents at the beginning. This offers great tips to help parents acknowledge and deal with their children's fears. Usually a concern of books dealing with children's fears is that the readers will acquire new fears, the ones introduced in the book. This isn't the case this book. How many children maintain lighthouses? The chance of this fear transferring to readers is highly unlikely.
What I Dislike: The explanation of the sounds and the dissipation of Billy's fears seemed abrupt.
Overall Rating: Very Good.
Age Appeal: 4-8
Publisher Info: GPKids, 2007; ISBN: 0824955579; Hardback; $8.99
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Special Info: See our reviews of other books about being afraid.