3 out of 4 stars
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The Night of the Lights by A. Elizabeth Orley is a children’s picture book about a little boy with a big, creative mind. Sam always looks forward to the days he spends with Gigi, his grandmother. On this particular day, Gigi drives Sam out of the city to her country home, where she has a special surprise planned. After the sun goes down, Sam begins to see fireflies twinkling in the sky, and Gigi encourages him to catch a few. Sam must use his creative mind to figure out how to capture the fireflies and impress Gigi.
I really enjoyed how the author brought out the magical feeling of catching fireflies in this book. I became nostalgic while reading because, just like Sam, I used to take trips to the country to visit family and catch fireflies. Because of this, I think this book could open parents up to talking about their childhoods with their kids.
Not only does the writing highlight the magic of the fireflies, but the illustrations also do a great job of telling the story. The rippling cartoon pictures make the reader feel like they are looking through an old pane of wavy glass. This really added to the timeless nature of the story and made me feel like children could see themselves in Sam’s place.
Overall, I would rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I really enjoyed the writing and illustrations and found no errors in it. I deducted one star because I felt that the author pushed the message of creative thinking a little too far in the middle of the book. It interrupted the main storyline, and I don’t think kids need that obvious of a push to want to think creatively. After this part of the story, Gigi explains that they need to let the fireflies go, and this leads to a message about how we should treat animals. This message was integrated much more naturally, and I would have appreciated the author integrating the message about creative thinking in a similar way.
I would recommend this book to parents of kids ages five to eight. The author includes educational information about fireflies but also keeps the vocabulary at a level appropriate for early readers. I could see many parents using this book to inspire a sense of wonder in their children.
The Night of the Lights
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