Lights Out, Leonard
Picture Puffin, 2019
32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99
Leonard is not afraid of the dark. It’s the five-nosed, seven-tailed, eleven-handed, scaly-waily monster (and its cousins)that are hiding in the corner of his bedroom that make him reluctant to have the lights out at night. No matter whether it’s mum, dad or both of them together he begs them to leave the lights on – and so they do. For several nights the lights stay on all night in Leonard’s room, lighting up the dark and scaring the monsters until one day he finds a strange book on his bed. It’s called How to frighten Monsters and is full of tips and tricks to scare them away. And it has a BIG poster to hang on his door. But does it do the trick?
This is a funny story about a very common subject, one that parents with children who demand the lights be left on will appreciate for its strategies for dealing with the fears. Pyke’s descriptions of the monsters lurking in Leonard’s room demand to be drawn in all their glory – perhaps another tip for getting rid of them – because they have deliberately not been shown in full so that there is nothing too confronting to scare the reader. But there is enough to suggest the fear they instill in Leonard.
Even though this story has a theme that has been covered before, the resolution is original and effective and by giving Josh the power to vanquish his demons himself. success is guaranteed. It will also generate discussion about what makes it dark and why it can be scary, as well as the opportunity to share other ideas for defeating those monsters. Perhaps each child could create their own page for a class manual! Teaching notes are available here and there is also an activity pack.