Lights Out

Illustrated by Susan Reagan

Published by Creative Editions

The Story Behind The Story

As a child, I lived surrounded by Kansas farmland. I remember crawling out the window of my second story home and sitting on the roof for hours, enchanted by the constellations.

Years later, in 2008, I was honored to be part of Sequoia National Park Foundation’s Authors in the Back Country. With others, I rode horseback into the high Sierras for a weeklong nature adventure. We camped at 10,000 feet. The first night I remember opening the tent flap, looking up into the darkness, and laughing out loud at the brilliance of the heavens and the number of stars I could see. I don’t think I’d ever seen so many. I wished everyone might be able to see the night sky in this way. At that moment, I tucked an idea in my mind. It was a wish to write a picture book to demonstrate the harm done by light pollution, with a group of animal characters searching, not for the light, but for the dark.


“Creatures search for Night in this story about the negative effects of light pollution. In the coastal town in which they live, Fox and Beetle see an abundance of artificial light and set out to search for “the Dark of Night.” Instead, they find electric lights everywhere, ones that confuse Songbird, silence Frog, and disturb Bear’s hibernation. Each of these creatures joins Fox and Beetle on their journey into new terrains. A rhythmic refrain creates a satisfying cadence in the text. The closing spreads with the dark sky and natural, nocturnal lights are enchanting. Stars twinkle, and the moon glows, as Mother Nature would have it. The fade-in title design on the book’s cover is especially smart, communicating much about the story. An author’s note kicks off the book, noting how little we hear about light pollution.  Illuminating. (Picture book. 4-8)”

Unpacking The Power of Picture Books

“Sometimes a serious nonfiction topic is addressed with grace and persuasive authority through fiction. This is the case with Cybils Awards fiction picture book nominee Lights Out. Marsha Diane Arnold lends her magical storytelling voice to the topic of light pollution, revealing its impact on familiar life forms.”

Star Tribune

“This simple story is a gentle reminder that dark is as beautiful and as important as light.”