Comics Roundup #20: “Nightlights”

That’s it. I’m now a fan of Lorena Alvarez’s work.

The cover of Nightlights called to me when I last visited the library. I’d told myself that it’s been too long since I’d visited so I should go there and get myself a book. I left with 7 books, one of which I ended up purchasing at the Barnes & Noble because I needed my own copy of it. Now I want to purchase a copy of Nightlights too.


Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez (illus.)

Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads summary:

Every night, tiny stars appear out of the darkness in little Sandy’s bedroom. She catches them and creates wonderful creatures to play with until she falls asleep, and in the morning brings them back to life in the whimsical drawings. When a mysterious new girl appears at school, Sandy’s drawings are noticed for the first time…but Morfie’s fascination with Sandy’s talent soon turns into something far more sinister.

Nightlights is a beautiful story about fear, insecurity, and creativity, from the enchanting imagination of Lorena Alvarez. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

Author and illustrator, Lorena Alvarez, draws upon her experiences attending Catholic school in Bogota, Columbia, where she was born and raised, to create this sweet, whimsical story about a little girl who works past her fears and insecurities to keep creating her art. It’s a story that most people can relate to and that many kids will be able to quickly understand because of how simply the story is told.

The endpages

The story’s message isn’t forced on the reader. Instead the reader is able to infer the story’s message from the illustrations of the characters’ actions. I think Alvarez did a wonderful job with this story, and I love that she shows that daydreaming isn’t such a bad thing and that the protagonist, Sandy, uses both what she is taught in school and what she knows about herself to defeat the antagonist.

I’d say that Nightlights is a middle-grade fantasy graphic novel. Terms like the mathematical constant “pi” are discussed and the story is laid out in panels like a graphic novel or comic book. Interspersed among the panels are some beautiful full-page and two-page spreads.

Art style:

I love Alvarez’s illustration style! I love it so much that I updated my Facebook cover photo to one of her illustrations. It’s so cute! 😊

And that’s what I like about her style: it’s cute without being cutsey or saccharine. It’s also detailed but not excessive and though there are lots of bright colors throughout, mostly in panels focused on Sandy’s imagination and creations, they aren’t overbearing.

The paper quality helps to mute the brightness of the colors. I usually prefer comics that are printed on glossy, or semi-glossy paper, because such paper is smooth and help to emphasize the colors; but since the colors Alvarez uses are already bright, the texture of the paper used helps to tone it down. I’m not sure “texture” is the right word to describe what about the paper helps to mute the color, but the paper does have some roughness to it.

I liked how the characters are drawn, especially the antagonist Morfie. Alvarez’s style isn’t one I usually go for, but it works for this story and is so darn cute that I’m starting to prefer this style and even recently pre-ordered a comic book that has a similar illustration style.

The title page

I love how Sandy is drawn – big eyes and messy hair. Those details immediately endeared her to me. And I love the body language and postures of girls in the classroom setting – they all look bored and it was funny to see Sandy and her friends whispering in the back of the class trying not to get caught.

Morphie, the antagonist who at first poses as a friend, really stood out to me. I like how she’s illustrated when she first appears: pale with an ethereal quality about her as if she’s about to disintegrate in the wind at any moment. I love that about Morphie because it gives the impression that she is a spirit, a muse, that Sandy later learns she doesn’t need.

I also love the illustrations of Sandy’s neighborhood, which seems to be a busy downtown area, but what I love the most are the page spreads focused on Sandy’s imagination. There are lots of interesting creatures there and doodles and zentangles and I love them all!

(Below are pics of pages from the book that I found on the publisher’s (NoBrow) website. You can visit there website to see more from the book or to purchase it.)

Overall: ★★★★☆

A sweet story presented alongside bright illustrations that are so cute it’ll melt your heart. 😊

Okay, that’s cheesy, but the story is good and so are the illustrations, so I urge you all to try the book or buy it for a young one in your life.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

Yes, Buy it for the young one in your life. But if you’re an adult who just wants to read some comics or picture books and check out some great art while doing so, then you can just go Borrow it.

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12 thoughts on “Comics Roundup #20: “Nightlights”

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