On dark days and even darker nights, we seek light, however faint it may be. We lift our faces up to search the sky for stars or a portion of the moon. We look for lights shining in windows of homes, even if it is the flame from a single candle. Light need not be from stars, the moon, or devices made by humans.
Light can be found in a generous heart, the warmth of a gaze or a quick, easy smile. Ella's Night Lights (Candlewick Press, November 24, 2020) written and illustrated by Lucy Fleming follows a whimsical being of the forest. Although she can only move about at night, this does not diminish her purpose.
Nestled in a little nook
of an old oak tree
lived a teeny-tiny girl.
Her name was Ella.
Ella's delicate wings kept her inside during daylight hours. Her greatest desire was to see a sunrise. She loved light.
At night when Ella left her home, she gathered every bit of light she found. She did not keep it for herself. It was freely given to those who needed to navigate through darkness.
Each time she gave away light, she whispered a poem to the recipient. She believed at one time or another; light was needed by someone. One night Sable, a fox, welcomed Ella's light. The duo became friends, gathering and sharing light together.
On another night another forest being was frightened. Ella offered light. Night after night, Ella and her new friends frolicked in fun until the sun started to rise. Sable wanted to bring as much happiness to Ella as she brought to others. The fox and the forest friends fashioned something unexpected for Ella; like her they found light in darkness.
This tender and loving story resonates through the narrative penned by Lucy Fleming. Through her use of alliteration Lucy Fleming draws us into the nights spent by Ella. The repetition of the rhyming, reassuring poem ties portions of the story together.
All of us can identify with being or feeling small and of having a deep desire. Lucy Fleming, through Ella, allows us to understand the strength found in sharing light and our light. Ella is a shining example of placing others before yourself. Here, the shared hope comes back to Ella. This is another passage.
When Ella awoke at night
and the moon was high,
she flittered and flew, collecting light.
She was drawn to everything that
glowed and glimmered
in the darkness.
The enchanting scene shown on the front, right, of the matching dust jacket and book case gives us a glimpse of the magic found within the pages of this book. Ella's two best forest friends are shown gathering and enjoying light with her. The swirl of stars and dust represent the sharing of the gathered light. On the front of the dust jacket the light shimmers.
The image on the front, right, spreads over the spine to continue on the left, back. The hill over the spine sloops down to a small valley before rising again. There are some trees in the foreground on the right. On the left, a large tree extends from the corner to the top, some branches reaching toward the full moon sitting just above the valley. What a gorgeous, glorious illustration this is! (The entire picture continues flap edge to flap edge.)
The opening and closing endpapers are a golden yellow. Etched in white are stars and other night flyers, moths. The verso, dedication and title pages are a single illustration. It is a panoramic view of the winter world, a vast meadow bordered by forests. A star streaks across the night sky.
Rendered digitally, these illustrations, double-page pictures, full-page pictures, and smaller pictures grouped on a single page, show a winter world hushed in the darkness. Whether we are close to Ella or given a larger perspective of her night journeys, each intricate detail contributes to the charm of the setting and tale. We want to stop to enjoy all the individual elements. As Ella collects light, it follows her everywhere. This presents the truth of light being drawn to light.
One of my many, many favorite illustrations is a full-page image. The canvas is a starry sky with a lighter purple shade toward the bottom. In the left-hand corner is a bit of branches from a tree. A crescent moon hangs above these branches. In the sky are Luna, Ella, and Sable, left to right. Each of them is holding a balloon of light with a central glow. Luna and Ella are in flight. Sable is leaping straight up.
Delightful from beginning to end, resonating long after the covers are closed, Ella's Night Lights written and illustrated by Lucy Fleming is a story of giving and receiving. Readers will be wrapped in its warmth of friendship found. You'll want to use this title for a storytime on being a friend, winter, bedtime, and sharing your talents. Be sure to have a copy on your personal and professional bookshelves.
To learn more about Lucy Fleming and her other work, follow the link attached to her name to access her website. Lucy Fleming has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter. At the publisher's website you can view an interior illustration. I hope you enjoy this video with Lucy Fleming talking about this book and her creative process.