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I've been so excited to read this for quite a while, as Anthony Burt is a fellow Egg with the Golden Egg Academy. And what can I say? 'The Animal Lighthouse' is an immense joy; eccentric, funny and tender with many exciting and perilous moments throughout.  It's a smashing mix of 'The Jungle Book', 'Treasure Island' and even a bit of 'Home Alone'. It's a unique swashbuckling MG adventure, which alongside Ciara Flood's magnificent illustrations, will undoubtedly be devoured by children with ardent glee! Arr!

Brought up by a wonderful group of animals on a hidden island somewhere deep in the Caribbean, Jim knows no other life or who his real parents are. He washed up on the island as a baby in a barrel of rum and treasure, and has been helping run its special lighthouse with the animals ever since. But now, trouble is brewing ...

Someone, or something, has stolen the lighthouse bulb filaments. If Jim, Oscar and the rest of the animals can't get the lighthouse beams working again, the hidden island will no longer be a secret. And with a pirate ship on the horizon, danger is about to smash their tranquil island apart ...

'The Animal Lighthouse' is simply knockout fun. Anthony Burt has mixed talking animals with a tropical island with pirates in the most engaging, whimsical and tender ways. From the start, he magically transports us by describing Jim and Oskar, the orangutan, looking out on a moonlight cove. From this surprisingly tender beginning, there continues to be such beauty and heart in the mischievous goings-on - a wonderfully crafted balance between the heartfelt and the outrageous. 


It is refreshing but also classic-feeling to have a family of talking animals all with unique traits and personalities. I can't stop thinking about Elsa the elephant getting down from inside the lighthouse on a curving slide (!) or the family of beetles just trying to find a home to get warm... There are so many inventive, playful details that it's easy to be constantly surprised by its imaginative daring. Ultimately, though, this is a story about belonging, about the family we find that come in all shapes and sizes. Jim is very much like Mowgli, raised by these animals on an island without human contact. His character arc of discovering more about how he came to the island and the choices he faces alongside the threat of pirates is superbly realised. The final chapters are full of danger and drama in both its 'Home Alone-esque' struggle against the pirates and with the confrontation with Jim's human past. There is definitely scope for a sequel here too!

With everything going on in the world, 'The Animal Lighthouse' offers a welcome treasure chest of fun, hilarity and heart. Smashing stuff!

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