When we set to work creating Kinderlit.ca, we sat and made a list of authors and illustrators we wanted to feature. It’s a very long list, and we have barely scratched the surface three weeks in; at the top of that list, however, was Gabriel Alborozo, a writer-illustrator from the UK who makes some of the most beautiful and singular illustrations in the game today. Check out The Acrobat. Check out The Colour Thief. Check out Zo et Lou.
Check out Good Night, Firefly.
In many ways, Firefly stands in stark contrast to Alborozo’s colourful, exuberant earlier works; rendered as it is in its own starkly contrasting black and white palette. Colour appears in these pages only to make a point, whether it be in the heroine’s red dressing gown or scarf, or in the barely perceptible yellow of the firefly itself.
The story centres on Nina, whose house has lost power, and whose bedroom has filled with shadows, and who is scared. She sees a glow through her bedroom window and ventures outside to collect herself a firefly, which brightens up her room and fills her with courage. She sits up with her new friend, and reads, plays and makes shadow puppets by his glow. He obliges until he can no longer; his light is growing dim, and Nina must face her fear to save her ally.
The story itself and the writing are wonderful, but the real magic of Good Night, Firefly lies in the pictures, which are incredible and flawlessly composed. (The illustration of Nina reading under her covers by the light of a firefly is worth the price of admission alone, as is the one of Nina approaching the open door of her house, the light peaking through the keyhole.) It looks to me like Alborozo has used a combination of scratch paper (for the fireflies and their light) and pen and ink drawing, and the effect is magnificent. The light effectively glows on the page, prompting our daughter to say one night, “Can we read that book in the morning? I’m so tired and it’s very bright.”
Good Night, Firefly delivers a master class in the use of contrast and sparsity in illustration. It is an object lesson in ambience; this book feels quiet, like a house in the dead of night should, and what more could you ask for from a book about a house in the dead of night?
Kinderlit requested and received an Advance Reader’s Copy of Good Night, Firefly in exchange for an honest review. Read or review policy here.