Hicotea: A Nightlights Story
Lorena Alvarez has followed up her beautiful Nightlights with this sequel. Hicotea: A Nightlights Story goes with Sandy, the young artist in the first book, on a school field trip. To what’s almost a literal field — they’re in nature, down by the river in the wetlands.
There, Sandy has a fantastic journey into a glorious museum found inside a turtle’s shell. It’s a symbolic way of indicating just how much knowledge there is out there, how even shells or marbles can be infinite universes, and how much we can find out without dissecting or capturing other creatures.
Sandy feels encouraged by the talking animals she meets (or imagines?) to keep asking questions, even when others find her annoying. She discovers the wetlands are endangered, but her determination keeps her optimistic, interested in continuing to explore and create and value beauty.
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, but in my opinion, it improves in one way: the purpose and meaning of the story isn’t quite as elliptical, although it’s just as multi-faceted. Either way, the images are worth getting lost in, and the books can be looked at over and over, with new things discovered every time.
I’m reminded of James and the Giant Peach and Aquicorn Cove and My Neighbor Totoro. There’s a preview spread in my previous post about this book. (The publisher provided a review copy.)