Title: Nightlights
Written and illustrated by Lorena Alvarez
Published in Australia by Walker Books. Published in the US and UK by Nobrow Ltd.
RRP: $29.99

Influenced by the liveliness and colour of her home, Colombia, and experiences of her Catholic schooling, Lorena Alvarez has produced a graphic novel full of colour, wonder and intrigue.

Sandy loves to draw. At night she catches lights and enters their colourful world of imaginative creatures. During the day, at her convent school, she draws and daydreams alone in the playground. It is here she meets the ethereal Marfie. Marfie loves her drawings and befriends Sandy. Marfie is, however, more sinister then she appears and tries to lead Sandy into an unknown and ghostly world. Sandy is too smart for Marfie and works an ingenious plan.

Sandy is a strong character, somewhat of a loner. She deals with Marfie’s deceptiveness in a clever and ingenious way. All elements work well in forming the characters and setting. Readers will be involved in the narrative of this book.

This large format, hard cover graphic novel is beautiful in many ways. The cover, with its bright orange cloth wrap around spine and colourful front cover, is stunning. The orange is repeated as you turn to view the front endpapers, decorated with strange and wonderful creatures that come alive in the book. The narrative begins without panels, a birds eye view of Sandy lying on the floor drawing, a speech bubble coming in from the right hand side ‘Sandy! Go to Bed!’. The reader is encouraged to turn the page and enter into Sandy’s world. Readers will not be disappointed. Colour is used to full effect, from vibrant double page illustrations with no panels to black and white illustrations with a small amount of colour for full impact. A variety of angles have been used both in the panel illustrations and the double page spread illustrations, positioning the viewer in various ways. Similarly, the panel sizes and frequency on pages differ throughout.

Highly recommended for all libraries, public and school, and lovers of stand alone graphic novels.

Thank you to Walker Books for supplying this book for review.

Learn more about Nightlights in this interview between Matthew Tobin and Lorena Alvarez.

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