NightLights

nightlights

Image Credit: Nobrow, Lorena Alvarez Gómez

Gorgeous.

NightLights is a new graphic novel about a magical girl who draws outside of the lines. Sandy has trouble fitting in; she’s a day-dreamer, a creative-type, and is misunderstood by not only her peers but her teachers.

Sandy has power. She takes the lights that appear in her bedroom and turns them into whimsical creatures. In her dreams she interacts with them and doodles them in the morning (and during class). Her classmates bully and tease her for having her head in the clouds until one day, a new girl named Morphie befriends her and tells her how good her art is. Interestingly enough, Sandy is the only person who can see Morphie but as she grows closer to the magical girl, she starts to feel uneasy.

Morphie is a greedy being; greedy for Sandy’s delicious & beautiful drawings. Even worse, Morphie begins to make Sandy question her creativity and independence; “And once you realize that you need me to tell you how brilliant you are, nothing will keep us apart!” she says.

nightlights-2

Image Credit: Nobrow, Lorena Alvarez Gómez

Morphie…is Sandy’s insecurity.

This story excellently explores the emotional difficulty of “not fitting in.” Sandy doesn’t think linearly; her mind blossoms with color and creatures and magic and so she has trouble in her rigid Catholic school. Insecurity slowly starts to creep in. As she battles herself, she finds strength by embracing her creativity (and even her insecurity and fear). This is such an important message for readers of all ages.

Alvarez creates a setting inspired by her hometown of Bogotá, Colombia (but dipped in colorful fantasy that rivals Miyazaki). NightLights works well as a graphic novel; each panel’s dialogue and illustration are well crafted. Her attention to detail and use of color is amazing! She weaves reality with fantasy to create a world that is both beautiful and terrifying. Readers will feel uneasy when Sandy interacts with Morphie & the twisted monsters she’s forced to create. They’ll also feel proud of her as she explores the beauty of her mind. I had a really great conversation with illustrator Erin Baker who pointed out the motif of “eyes” in this book. Sandy’s eyes are extremely expressive and the eyes of her fantasy creatures are fascinating and creepy.

There’s a lot packed into this graphic novel and I’m really excited for it to release in the United States. I hope you’ll check out NightLights!

Recommended for: 3rd Grade and up
Great for: Inner Strength, Insecurity, Determination, Power, Diversity, Community, Family, Confidence, Creepy, Fantasy, School Life, Daydreamers, Creative Thinking
Book Info: NightLights by Lorena Alvarez, 2017 Nobrow, ISBN: 9781910620137

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Outside Over There

Image Credit: HarperCollins, Maurice Sendak

Image Credit: HarperCollins, Maurice Sendak

Happy Halloween!

Ah, such a delightfully creepy holiday deserves an equally creepy book review. Today I’ll discuss Maurice Sendak’s 1982 Caldecott Award winning book, Outside Over There. Let me just put this out there, I like Maurice Sendak but I think Where the Wild Things Are is a bit overrated. I like many of his other books much more, including this one. The color palate is very muted and his style is more realistic. There’s a lot going on in the detailed illustrations and they are very fantastical.

In Outside Over There, little Ida’s dad goes away to sea and leaves his family to fend for themselves. While Ida’s mother looks forlorn and sits in her arbor daydreaming, Ida takes care of business. She plays her wonder horn to soothe her baby sister but she doesn’t watch her carefully. Two goblins sneak through the window and steal her sister, leaving a baby of ice. Ida goes “beast mode” and sets off to find her sister BUT she goes through the window backwards and falls into…outside over there. Creepy right?

The writing of this book is very beautifully done; there’s some rhyme and it is reminiscent of classic western literature like Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Outside Over There isn’t for everyone but it’s definitely worth a read and a look, especially if you are a fan of Sendak’s work.

Recommended for: All ages (with caution due to kidnapping/creepy goblins)
Great for: Creepy Tales, Sisterhood
Book Info: Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak, 1981 HarperCollins, ISBN: 9780060255237