Review of Luminous: Living Things That Light Up the Night

Luminous: Living Things That Light Up the NightLuminous: Living Things That Light Up the Night
by Julia Kuo; illus. by the author
Primary    Greystone Kids    40 pp.    g
11/22    978-1-77164-888-2    $18.95
e-book ed.  978-1-77164-889-9    $18.95

“What if your body could make its own light?” In Kuo’s gorgeous exploration of bioluminescence, an adult and child encounter organisms that do just that in the air, sea, and underground. The black-backgrounded illustrations creatively employ negative space and a limited palette—almost exclusively blue, orange, tan, and white—to produce images that effectively capture the subdued glow of bioluminescent life. At first, the human pair appears in the illustrations alongside fireflies, foxfire, glowworms, and dinoflagellates, all of which live in locations people can visit. Kuo then invites the two (and readers) to “just imagine…” what it’s like deep in the ocean where bioluminescent animals live, where their light helps vampire squid scare their enemies, dragonfish find food, and jeweled squid camouflage themselves. The poetic main text, which encourages observation and wonder, is accompanied by short paragraphs, in a smaller font, that present factual information about the featured organisms. The final pages issue a gentle warning that human-caused light pollution is making this amazing phenomenon increasingly difficult to see.

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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