The Vanishing Lake is a beautifully illustrated picture book inspired by Loughareema, a lake in Northern Ireland that periodically vanishes. The heartwarming relationship between Meara and Grandad is central to this magical story as Meara tries to discover what causes the lake to disappear. Grandad has some wild and sometimes wacky suggestions as to why it happens but what’s the real reason?
The Story: Meara often visits Grandad and his pet otter Cara who live next to a lake called Loughareema. But every so often the lake vanishes – all the water simply disappears! Every time the lake disappears Grandad has a different answer as to what has happened so Meara decides to try and solve the mystery, even staying up all night to watch it. Finally Grandad takes Meara on a very long walk and she is stunned when she learns the secret of why the lake is sometimes empty.
We love the relationship between Meara and Grandad, his stories about why the lake keeps disappearing are very entertaining – is it narwals? Or mermaids? – our favourite explanation involves sheep! Meara is a very determined and curious heroine who does everything she can to find out the lake’s secret – she’s amazed when she finds out the reason and it’s one of our favourite illustrations (but we’re not going to reveal the secret!).
When we first read The Vanishing Lake we were torn between poring over the beautiful illustrations or reading as fast as we could to see what the lake’s secret was. It really is a very ordinary lake until it disappears…
Paddy’s fabulous illustrations use natural, pastel colours and we particularly love the way that he depicts the sky using a wide range of colours. There’s a beautiful illustration showing Meara watching the lake by the light of the full moon and it is at this point in the story that she gives up on trying to find out where the lake goes. But then Grandad tells her to follow him…
This beautiful story celebrates the relationship between characters from two different generations and could be used in an Early Years / Key Stage One class topic on families. It also inspired a geography lesson as we read more about Loughareema, the vanishing lake in Northern Ireland, in this blogpost from The Geographical Society.
Author / Illustrator: Paddy Donnelly
Thank you to Paddy Donnelly for sending a review copy of this magical story. Paddy’s publisher, Yeehoo Press, has a great interview with him about The Vanishing Lake on their website.