Hicotea: A Nightlights Story (Nightlights #2)

by Lorena Alvarez (Author)

Hicotea: A Nightlights Story (Nightlights #2)
Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade
Series: Nightlights

Raina Telgemeier meets Miyazaki with a Latin American twist in this mesmerizing follow-up to the best-selling children's graphic novel Nightlights. Lorena Alvarez's spunky heroine Sandy returns to explore a magical new dimension.

On a school field trip to the river, Sandy wanders away from her classmates and discovers an empty turtle shell. Peeking through the dark hole, she suddenly finds herself within a magical realm.

Filled with sculptures, paintings and books, the turtle's shell is a museum of the natural world. But one painting is incomplete, and the turtle needs Sandy's help to finish it.

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
The artwork is surreal and striking and the palette sumptuous. The story is set in Bogotá, the artist capturing the atmosphere of her hometown in all its color and variety. The characters in the book are as varied as their city, depicted in a range of skin colors that attests to its multiracial character.

School Library Journal

Gr 2-5-Alvarez's second installment in the series finds her inquisitive protagonist exploring the wetlands with her science class. Sandy's conflict with controlling classmate Tata is established in the opening lab scenes. Later, it becomes the motivation for the wide-eyed, brown-skinned girl with hair styled in two puffs to stomp off from Sister Epifania's field trip. In anger, she kicks a turtle shell, but remorse--and imagination--lead her inside the shell's now topsy-turvy realm. She wanders through a museum filled with parodies of famous paintings, scientific illustrations, and natural objects, eventually meeting the titular turtle herself. The girl learns that each piece "represents a question that someone asked, and their journey to find an answer." Alvarez has a marvelous gift for creating original and enticing flora and fauna in unexpected color combinations; these are worlds readers will wish to enter. Varied design keeps the narrative interesting: there may be 10 panels per page (it's sometimes challenging to know who's talking) or single spread compositions. When Sandy's curiosity leads her through a portal into a barren landscape, she meets a helper and confronts an enemy, an overpowering birdlike creature that either replicates itself or is everywhere at once--the phenomenon that had driven Hicotea into her shell. Sandy observes how fear paralyzes: "the world becomes smaller." Moments of dreaming, ambiguous transitions, and characters that appear in real and surreal portions will have readers turning back and forth to grapple with meaning. VERDICT An entertaining and immersive excursion, especially for fans of the first volume.-Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Alvarez unveils a stunningly beautiful follow-up to Nightlights, featuring the same protagonist in a strange new environment . . . Bright, white, and dark colors all battle for space as each represents something different - life, absence, and evil, respectively. Alvarez's art is a treat that brings her story alive."
Youth Services Book Review

"The story is epic, about creation and destruction. The color and design and endlessly flowing art in Hicotea is just as lovely and imaginative as Nightlights . . . the images are worth getting lost in, and the books can be looked at over and over, with new things discovered every time."
Johanna Draper Carlson for Comics Worth Reading

"This is a layered, complex tale, and to call Alvarez's artwork a visual delight would be criminally understated. Filled with rich colors, tremendous detail, and tons of atmosphere it is a book for reading slowly and then a book for reading multiple times. The worlds Alvarez creates are utterly entrancing, and I look forward to Sandy's next journey."
Julie Danielson for Kirkus Reviews
Lorena Alvarez
Lorena Alvarez was born and raised in Bogotá, and studied Graphic Design and Arts at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. She has illustrated for children books, independent publications, advertising and fashion magazines. Since 2008, she has been part of "La Procesión Puppet Club", an experimental puppetry group of illustrators and visual artists.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
March 12, 2019
BISAC categories
JUV014000 - Juvenile Fiction | Girls & Women
JUV008040 - Juvenile Fiction | Comics & Graphic Novels | Action & Adventure
JUV008080 - Juvenile Fiction | Comics & Graphic Novels | Fantasy
Library of Congress categories
Graphic novels
Comics (Graphic works)
School field trips
Fantasy comics
School children

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