VIRGINIA DAWKINS: The House of Lanterns | Columns

While collecting books for my first great-grandchild (who is yet to be born), I visited Lemuria Bookstore in Jackson and found a new book by a Mississippi author. Erin Napier, the star of HGTV’s Home Town, has written a charming children’s book with colorful illustrations by Adam Trest.

In “The Lantern House”, a small house speaks to us: “In the beginning, my family builds a fence and plants flowers and tomatoes in my garden. The children climb on my magnolia and play the piano in my living room. But what will happen when they are no longer dancing in my dining room? When my windows darken and I crack in the winter wind? I will wait and dream of a family that will love me again.

Over time, the little house ages and empties. And then, a new family appears, and we witness the restoration of an old and broken house. The little house says of the new family: “They are not afraid of my spiders and my broken parts. Although I am dark and empty, they remain with me. They hunt spiders. They paint me yellow and plant roses along my new fence. There is light in every room now.

In real life, Erin and Ben Napier restore old homes in Laurel, Mississippi, taking what’s old, outdated, and broken and making it new. What they do takes imagination, hard work and time. But when done, it produces a facelift for hometowns like Laurel.

In the restoration process, restorers sometimes deal with mold, smelly old carpets, and termite damage. Faced with the damage that the years have caused to the structures, there must be a vision, a hope for renewal. Ben and Erin Napier see the possibilities of homes that are worn out but worth saving.

I discovered that we adults can glean wisdom from a well-written children’s book. While reading “The Lantern House”, I pondered the word “restoration”. I find in Psalm 23: “He restores my soul. God is not bothered by the cobwebs and broken parts that have slowly accumulated in my life. He wants me to allow him to sweep away the spiders and replace my broken parts. When my soul feels dark and empty, my Lord desires to bring His light back into my life. He restores my soul.

To cheer yourself up, when life gets too serious, go to the children’s section of the library or a good bookstore, gather a few books and go read to a child.

For my great-grandchild’s library, I will also add the story of Peter Rabbit and continue to seek out children’s classics like the ones I read in my kindergarten class so many years ago. I will also be ordering a Beginner’s Bible from Lifeway and reviewing the children’s section of Books-a-Million.

In response to last week’s article, Julia tells me that her favorite book is the Bible and that she loves fiction by Barbara Taylor Bradford and Dorothea Benton Frank.

Jorja remembers enjoying a biography of Betsy Ross when she was a child. She says, “By the end of the school year, I had read all the biographies on the show.” Rosemary reminded me of “Anne of Green Gables”. If you haven’t read it, you should.

Virginia Dawkins can be reached at [email protected]


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Raymond I. Langston