Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Peppe the Lamplighter - Elisa Bartone

Summary: In the tradition of Lois Lowry and Paul Fleischman, Elisa Bartone's Caldecott Honor-winning book gives children a glimpse into American history and the immigrant experience.

This is the story of Peppe, who becomes a lamplighter to help support his immigrant family in turn-of-the-century New York City, despite his papa's disapproval. Peppe's family is very poor, and though he is just a boy he needs to find work. Being a lamplighter is not the job his father had dreamed of for Peppe, but when Peppe's job helps save his little sister, he earns the respect of his entire family. (Summary and image from goodreads.com).

Review: This isn't a traditional Christmas story, and yet, it's my husband's favorite.  He loves the simplicity, the pictures are stunning, and the story, although simple, is beautiful. 

Peppe is an Italian-American boy who is struggling to help his family.  With no work to be found, he is thrilled when he's asked to light the lamps for a time.  His father, ashamed of such menial work, doesn't know how to relate, and allows his feelings shame Peppe into inaction.

While the story isn't traditionally Christmasy, I understand why my husband loves it so much.  At its heart, this is a story of perseverance.  It's about doing what is needed, even when it may not be the most glamorous job.  It's about thinking of others, serving them, and helping them find hope and joy, even when you yourself are in need.  At the end, it shows that it's through those acts of service we find hope and joy.

Rating: Five stars

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