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Afraid of the Dark? Not with this Book!: Review of Lights Out Leonard by Josh Pyke

June 18, 2019

Lights Out Leonard, written by award winning singer and song writer Josh Pyke and illustrated by Chris Nixon, tells the story of a little boy called Leonard who is afraid of the dark – well not the dark but the things that hide in the dark…

When his mum comes in to turn the lights off at night his imagination starts to conjure up a three-headed, eight-armed, twelve-legged, hairy, scary-faced creature or a five-nosed, seven-tailed, eleven-handed, scaly-waily monster.

It’s ok for mum and dad who quietly make their way back down the hallway to safely sit in the well-lit lounge room and watch TV, or to the kitchen to make a reassuring cup of tea.

This routine continues night after night until Leonard discovers a book sitting on his bed with a mysterious title – How to Frighten Monsters. Interestingly, according to the book, monsters are afraid of minty breath, tidy bedrooms, kisses from parents and a host of other things…

Leonard reads it from cover to cover and gets ready – can he face the dark this time?

Filled with wonderfully vibrant illustrations from Chris Nixon who uses blues and greys to create the dark and splashes of yellow and orange for light turning the pages is immediately engaging and a visual feast for the senses. In his fox suit, Leonard is reminiscent of Max from Where the Wild Things Are.

This is quirky book with a funny twist and it’s always entertaining to see if the kids catch on to what the parents are really up to. You’ll be reading and re-reading this one.

It may not solve any problems that you have with children reluctant to turn the lights out at night but at the very least it will bring a bit of laughter to a sometimes-fraught time of the day!

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Josh Pyke is an Australian singer and songwriter known for his six award-winning indie/folk albums, including a best-of album released in 2017. He is committed to representing the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, as one of only six lifetime ambassadors for the charity (and the only non-author lifetime ambassador). He launched the initiative ‘Buskin for Change’ in 2009 to raise support for the ILF. Josh co-wrote the ILF song ‘Words Make the World Go Round’ with Justine Clarke, as well as co-writing, producing and mixing five songs for Justine’s new ABC2 TV show, Ta Da! Lights Out, Leonard is his first picture book.

Chris Nixon is an illustrator and designer based in Perth, Western Australia. His work is influenced by surf, skate, music and contemporary pop culture with an emphasis on the hand-drawn form. Accompanying his commercial work, Nixon has created several large scale artworks which have been installed around the state. In addition to his commercial illustration, Nixon has been published in over 10 children’s books. In 2011 Nixon was named in the top 100 New Creatives by CMYK magazine.


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