Lightfall: The Girl & the Galdurian

HarperAlley. Sept. 2020. 256p. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780062990464.
Gr 4-6–Beatrice lives in a small, isolated town in the woods with her forgetful grandfather and potions shopkeeper, Alfirid the Pig Wizard. While out collecting ingredients, Bea happens upon Cadwallader (Cad), a tall, brown, animal-like creature who may be the last of the Galdurians, a race thought to be extinct. Cad needs Alfirid’s help to translate a document that may lead Cad to other Galdurians, but Alfirid is missing, and Bea and Cad find a note that sends them on the adventure of a lifetime. Sweeping scenery and exquisite setting detail, combined with intriguing dialogue, contribute to impressive world-building. Pages are usually awash in the light of a perpetual sunrise or sunset falling on a range of earthy tones, but when the evil Tikarri appear, this palette changes to a mix of crow black and pewter gray with a celestial and hazy purple-pink blend. While Cad is humorous and daring, Bea is cautious and appears to suffer from anxiety, depicted as black tendrils that wrap around her. She is often unhelpfully told to put things in perspective, which may sound familiar to readers who relate to her. Characters are a mix of human and anthropomorphized animals; Bea is a beige-skinned human girl, while Alfirid, her adopted grandfather, is a pig. Fights, weaponry, and explosions are all depicted, as is a minimal and strategic amount of destruction and death; darker tones are present, but outright gore is avoided.
VERDICT Majestic artwork, a burgeoning friendship, and the promise of adventure keep the pages turning in this to-be-continued tale. For readers who enjoyed Ryan Andrew’s This Was Our Pact and Kazu Kibuishi’s “Amulet” series.

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