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Eleven-year-old Lucy Landry, a French-Ojibwe girl, can’t understand why everyone she loves has to go away. Her mother died when Lucy was very young, and her father died two years ago in a shipwreck. Now it’s 1912, and Lucy’s loving guardian has just died. Her will stipulates that Lucy must live with Mr. and Mrs. Martin and their six children at Harmony Lighthouse off Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula in Lake Superior.

Ever since her father drowned, Lucy is terrified of water and refuses to get into a boat. But now she has no choice. The only way to get to the lighthouse where Mr. Martin is the lighthouse keeper is by boat. Lucy is distraught because “she had never been in charge of her own fate. Grown-ups always decided everything, never considering the feelings of a lonesome little girl who had a great many needs.”

Though Lucy fears living on a tiny patch of land in the middle of a treacherous lake, its location stirs hope in her heart. Its proximity to Mermaid’s Corner means that, if she can come up with a plan, perhaps she can go there and look for the priceless ruby necklace lost in a shipwreck decades before that her father had often searched for. She’s convinced that if she discovers it, “that would ensure that she was not being disloyal to his memory.”

When Lucy meets the Martin family, she’s thrilled to learn that they share her Ojibwe heritage, and she tries her best to win their love by being helpful. However, her spirited imagination and pompous proclamations—she imagines herself, among other things, as a princess of Acadia, an actress, an heiress, or a waif —and the myriad mishaps that accompany her acts of service cause the Martin children to see her as more of a hindrance than a help. Lucy is caught between her need to live in her imaginary world, which helps her deal with her sadness and loneliness, and the need to concentrate on the duties and rigors of living in a lighthouse.

When Lucy encounters a life-threatening situation, she responds with bravery she had never demonstrated before or even imagined possible. In the midst of the crisis, she knows she is receiving strength from God to do the impossible.

In this delightfully funny and heartwarming novel for children ages 8-12, author Anna Rose Johnson, a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (Ojibwe-Anishinaabe), masterfully melds adventure, the human need for love and a home, her First Nations heritage, and her Christian faith. (Holiday House)

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