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The Glow

By Sofie Laguna
Illustrated by Marc McBride
Reviewed by Sandy Driessens
Megan and Li live in a small coastal town and share a passion for creating stories. Megan draws fantasy monsters and Li brings them to life with her amazing tales. School holidays start tomorrow. The girls can’t wait to escape to the beach, to dream up some more creatures, but a blue light, radiating from electronic devices, has their family and friends mesmerized. For some reason, the girls are immune. So, with Megan’s dog, Callie, they set out to find help, to release their community from the grip of ‘The Glow’. How will they defeat this seemingly invincible and all-consuming monster?
Wife and husband team, Laguna and McBride are both multi award winners and this middle-grade sci-fi/fantasy shows the benefits of their creative partnership, it plays to their strengths as the quality of their work is evident throughout. Laguna’s narrative is aimed at readers aged 8+ , with short chapters encouraging and preparing the reader for what is to come. The characters are revealed through the girl’s inner dialogue, as they decide on actions, in keeping with their age and personalities. The setting is easy to visualize and the conflict is exciting and scary without being gruesome.
The cover, showing a splendid multi-eyed and tentacled monster is reminiscent of McBride’s images from The Glimme and the Deltora Quest series vividly capturing the fantasy element. The pencil sketches throughout the book portray the girls, their surrounds and actions adeptly. The sketches of monsters, supposedly created by Megan, are amazing, especially for a 12-year-old. The final battle climaxes in the illustrations, with the magnitude and depth of the situation are astonishing for purely pencil illustrations.
A less-than-subtle comment, on the dangers of screen addiction, The Glow, is reminiscent of vintage tales of alien entities using mass mind-control, to conquer the Earth. This is an exciting fantasy adventure story where the central characters find courage and defeat ‘the demon’ with creativity, imagination, teamwork and a touch of magic. As a sci-fi fan I enjoyed it and believe it will appeal to young creatives, encouraging them to continue drawing, writing and fantasizing.
For those interested some useful teaching resources are available on the publisher’s website.
 Allen & Unwin Children’s Books 2023
1942 Amsterdam Ave NY (212) 862-3680

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