Title: “The Flashlight: A Time Machine”
Author: Alec Yates
Published Date: 2018
No. of Pages: 40
ISBN: 978-1-64133-507-2 (sc); 978-1-64133-506-5 (e)
Available formats: Softcover, eBook
Time traveling can explore more than just periods, it can also explore literary genres or even introduce reading to children, which Alec Yates does in his self-illustrated book “The Flashlight: A Time Machine.”
“The Flashlight” revolves around a group of children who find a magical flashlight that allows them to travel through time as well as documents that help them on their adventure. They decide to search for the owner of the flashlight and travel back to 1925. With the help of a passerby who witnessed the children time travel and the records at the Record Hall, the children return the flashlight to its original owner and return to the present safely.
There are many grammar and punctuation inconsistencies, but what makes up for the technical errors is its odd format that reads very much like a script. The children don’t have names other than Child #1, Child #2, etc. So, roles can be assigned for each character, encouraging the notion of reading as a group and exposing children to read. Not only that, but “The Flashlight” can also serve as an introductory model for literary genres geared towards children. Common characteristics of the book’s genres are largely apparent throughout the story, such as time-traveling, deducing clues and going on a mission, and a fast-paced story that focuses on plot rather than the characters. The illustrations further frame the genres. The ongoing darkness throughout the story creates a sense of the unknown and danger, illustrating characteristics of mystery and sci-fi, which is emphasized through the darkness the children are surrounded by when they first find the flashlight. As the story comes to an end, the sense of danger and the unknown decreases as there is more light and the “darkness” retracts as mere shadows of the children, playfully spelling out “The End,” which signifies the end of the adventure and the story quite literally.
The author is an illustrator and artist— he is well-versed with different types of art, such as still life, portraits, and landscapes, as well as different types of art media, such as painting, sketches, colored pencil, and oil on paper. He received a BFA from The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, New York and an AOS from Pratt Phoenix School of Design in Manhattan, New York. He currently works as a teaching assistant for autistic children.
“The Flashlight” certainly pays homage to the author’s schooling, as it takes place in Manhattan. Not only that, the book is enjoyable and adventurous for children who enjoy time traveling or are willing to build their reading skills.