'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 28 April 2023

Review: City Of Light

City Of Light is an absolute delight. A wonderful non-fiction picture book, it is based on the true story of John Glenn who was the first American astronaut to orbit the earth. 

1962 was a time of encyclopaedias, pipe smoking and families either chatting over the back fence or gathered around a small colour tv in the lounge room – a world away from today’s instant access to news and current events.

This story takes us back in time to the world of 1962, through two small children with a big dream: they want astronaut John Glenn to see them, as he flies over their Perth home at night! Will their torches be bright enough for the job? Mum and Dad don’t think so.

An astronaut can only see the big things on earth… The Pyramids, The Amazon River, The Grand Canyon.

Hmm. How to light up their city at night?

The children invent lots of different ideas until finally they touch on one that might just work. And so, they create a successful action plan by enlisting the help of family, friends and the wider community. The whole city of Perth, in fact!

Every page-turn in this book brings something more to ponder and pore over. Clever, immersive writing and illustrations team together to create a world that is utterly alive on the page.

And the pictures are divine. Full of movement with loose, fluid line markings on the page and colour in all the right places, they somehow evoke a timeless joy. Interiors are beautifully shadowed, characters are full of expression and the inclusion of scribbled pencil marks brings an extra depth and sense of animation.

Surprises jump out. The outhouse with bare feet under the door will no doubt elicit questions from young readers – as will those fabulous ginger cousins with their bakelite telephone!

This book embodies lots of the best things in life – imagination, connection, working together, and believing in something that’s bigger than all of us.

A wonderful yarn with the perfect visual accompaniment.

What’s not to love!

City Of Light
Author: Julia Lawrinson
Illustrators: Heather Potter & Mark Jackson
Publisher: Wild Dog Books, $24.99
Publication Date: February 2023
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781742036304
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Books For Older Readers