Night lights by Lorena Alvarez

cover image

Nobrow, 2016. ISBN 9781910620137
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Picture book for older readers. Night lights is a beautifully illustrated story, touching on how fear can make us doubt ourselves. At night, Sandy's imagination allows her to catch the lights that come into her room. She then uses them and her imagination to draw amazing designs and images. During the day, Sandy attends a strict school, determined to squash independent thought and creativity. She meets a new student who loves her drawings and at the same time an entity appears in her dreams, trying to persuade Sandy to draw for it and only it; trying to persuade Sandy she cannot draw without it. Sandy's drawings change from amazing and detailed to scribble. What will she do to get her confidence and her creativity back? Is this new student really helping or is there something more sinister at work?
Night lights is a picture book for older students and is recommended for readers aged 12+. Even then, readers will need an adult to sit with them and discuss the themes of fear and personal insecurity. It would be a great book to read with students who need help to build resilience, modelling how one person can take control of their fear and use it to their benefit rather than being controlled. While these themes seem heavy for a children's book, Lorena Alvarez has used her amazing design and artistic skills to approach a topic that can be tricky to discuss. See how Sandy doesn't let fear control her. See how she controls it!
Kylie Kempster