In a captivatingly eerie graphic novel from Colombian artist Alvarez, a young artist named Sandy finds the refuge of her imagination threatened by a mysterious interloper. For Sandy, it’s easy to tap into a magical, Technicolor world of friendly, fantastical beasts—owls, giant octopi, tadpolelike creatures, and more—and those imaginings fuel her drawings. This changes when she befriends Morfie, a lavender-haired child who turns up at Sandy’s Catholic school, which is run by strict nuns. Sandy’s classmates don’t notice Morfie, and when she later appears in Sandy’s bedroom, she transforms into a sinister, spritelike creature. She begins to dictate how and what Sandy draws, raising uneasy questions about the way that critical opinions can influence an artist. “Once you realize that you need me to tell you... how brilliant you are... nothing will keep us apart!” the increasingly gruesome Morfie tells Sandy. Alvarez’s haunting artwork features coiling plumes of lush colors and Miyazaki-esque beasts that create a sense of brooding melancholy. It’s a deliciously hair-raising story that thoughtfully explores themes of isolation, creativity, and how social pressures can encroach on individuality. Ages 9–up Agency: Bright Group. (Mar.)
A JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION
Readers will cheer [...] The beings that inhabit Sandy’s nighttime world are simply delightful. The album size, cloth spine binding, and spot gloss on the cover are the icing on the cake of this beautiful graphic novel.
–Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
Colombian illustrator Alvarez has achieved something special and unforgettable with her first authorial outing.
–The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, STARRED REVIEW
This delightfully unsettling tale is told with humor and imagination and is illustrated with jewel-like panels and lots of white space. There are rewarding details to be found in every scene, especially in the lush landscapes, both real and imagined, and in the drawings within drawings. [...] Young readers, especially young artists, will gobble this up.
–New York Times
[...] Alvarez's stunning, Miyazaki-like illustrations are jaw-dropping. [...] the sumptuous artwork, from the velvety palette to the invitingly rounded figures, is a pleasure to age at. Let's hope there's more where this came from.
Nightlights is scary, strange and wondrous stuff, its terror heightened by its luminous, polychromatic beauty.
A sumptuously coloured, beautifully presented metaphor for the triumph of creativity and imagination in overcoming darkness and despair.
Nightlights is a stunning, richly-detailed ode to the power of creativity to triumph over loneliness and self-doubt. With gorgeous illustrations that evoke the fantastic imagination of Miyazaki, Gomez builds an enchanting story full of sylphs, school troubles, and one adorable, pigtailed heroine. LOVE!
–Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop
Mesmerizing, mystical, magnificent and everything I have come to expect and love from NoBrow from the epic illustrations to the definitively whimsical yet edgy story.
–Jesica Sweedler DeHart, Wandering Bookseller
A young artist makes friends with a ghost, but at what price? This is the perfect graphic novel for fans of Miyazaki or Neil Gaiman's Coraline. Alvarez's art is spectacular, combining lush colors with a level of detail that readers will want to revisit again and again.
–Cecilia Cackley, Hooray For Books!
Nightlights is a gorgeous parable by Lorena Alvarez. [….] it is absolutely beautiful.
–Comics Worth Reading
Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez might be one of the most beautiful comic books that I have read in a long time. Nobrow Press clearly saw the potential with this brilliant creator and have published an oversized comic book that does justice to the art within. My breath was taken away time and time again as I was drawn through the story. […] The colour palettes that Alvarez uses to bring the illustrations to life are stunning and vibrant, and her style itself reminds me of the early days of Disney concept art by the likes of Mary Blair.
Gr 4 Up—At Sandy's parochial school, her talent for daydreaming, doodling, and wandering doesn't endear her to the strict nuns, whose assignments the girl does her best to avoid. A bit of an outsider, Sandy is delighted when she meets a new friend, a strange, pale girl who gushes over her incredible artwork. As the protagonist's flights of fancy begin to merge with reality, she must save herself and the drawings she cherishes. The balanced, muted hues of Sandy's real world contrast dramatically with the lush colors of her hand-drawn fantasies. Alvarez's artwork is gorgeous, alternating between traditional panels and, in the dream sequences, vibrant spreads that spill from page to page with grace and fluidity. Reminiscent of the charming, cheeky protagonist of Luke Pearson's "Hilda" books, Sandy is a rosy-cheeked, pigtailed delight, solving her problems with cunning and—coolest of all—math. Readers will want to pore over this book and its many picturesque details again and again. Perhaps those who frequently find themselves with their heads in the clouds will see a little of themselves in Sandy, whose power to build new worlds will inspire others to make their own dreams come true. VERDICT How is this not on your shelf yet? Every library should have this gorgeous first purchase.—Abby Bussen, Muskego Public Library, WI
When a young girl's imagination and creativity are co-opted by a mysterious new friend, she must find a way to regain what is rightfully hers.Sandy is a brown-skinned, dark-haired girl with big black eyes and a vivid imagination. At night, as she goes to sleep, she catches the lights bobbing about in her room and turns them into anything she imagines. The next day is spent drawing the fantastical creatures from her dreams, much to the detriment of her schoolwork. When a tall, pale-skinned girl with purple hair befriends her, Sandy is excited, though there is something eerie and unsettling about her new companion. Her excitement soon turns to anger as Morfie enters her imaginative nighttime world and tries to take it over. Readers will cheer at the clever way in which Sandy regains control. Using a lovely palette that includes a liberal amount of rich, dark purple, Colombian-born Alvarez has drawn a world that harks back to her native Bogotá and days in Catholic school, evoking it in wonderful detail and atmosphere. Her pages are not crowded yet are filled with details that will engage readers. The beings that inhabit Sandy's nighttime world are simply delightful. The album size, cloth spine binding, and spot gloss on the cover are the icing on the cake of this beautiful graphic novel. A winner. (Graphic fantasy. 8-10)