authors, teachers' resources

“Lights out!” (Sheryl Gwyther)

Today we are launching Alphabet Soup magazine‘s UNDERCOVER READERS CLUB – the new reviewers club for kids aged 12 and under! As part of our online celebrations, we’ve invited a different children’s writer or illustrator to visit Soup Blog every day until 29 June 2010 to tell us about what they used to read after ‘lights out’ when they were growing up.

Our first visitor is Sheryl Gwyther, author of Secrets of Eromanga, and Princess Clown. Her writing has also appeared in the NSW Schools Magazine, and the anthology, Short and Scary.

"Secrets of Eromanga (cover)""Short and scary (cover)""Princess Clown (cover)"


"Sheryl Gwyther (photo)"
Sheryl Gwyther

What happens when you are reading an extremely exciting bit in a book and Mum or Dad says, light’s out!?

You keep reading, of course! Out comes your trusty torch. You wriggle under the covers and once again, you are lost in the book. This is exactly what I used to do when I was younger.

Once upon a time, before I owned a torch, I tried to use a candle to read in bed after ‘light’s-out’ – never thinking of the danger involved with fire. Burning wax on my fingers and on the floor stopped me. Maybe my mother saw the wax drops everywhere, because not long afterwards my parents gave me my first torch.

There’s a powerful image in my memory of reading in the dark with a torch. It happened when I was about eight. I had to get up for school the next day and Mum was nagging me stop reading and go to sleep. But I was caught up in the Silver Curlew (a book by Eleanor Farjeon), an exciting story about a young girl’s fight to save her sister from an evil imp. How could I possibly sleep?

I hid under the sheet with my torch, reading. Everyone else had gone to bed. It was dark outside and still, and the story was at a creepy, scary part. Then, an eerie wailing sound came from the trees outside.

It was a nocturnal bird called a Bush Curlew. I snapped shut the book, flicked off the light and burrowed back under the sheet in the dark, remembering my grandmother’s words … Curlews always wail when someone is dying. I was too scared to go to sleep!

If I had a ‘Light’s Out’ curfew put on me tonight, you would find me reading (with the aid of my trusty torch) a spell-binding story by Kate Forsyth, The Starthorn Tree. It’s the first in a series. When I’ve finished this one, I can start on the second one, The Wildkin’s Curse. Do you think my torch battery will last?

© Sheryl Gwyther 2010

Visit Sheryl Gwyther’s website, and her blog for more information about her books!

"undercover readers logo"If you’d like to join the Undercover Readers Club, you’ll find an information pack you can download from the Alphabet Soup website. As part of the celebrations, we have a different children’s author or illustrator visiting Soup Blog each day until 29 June 2010 to talk about what they used to read after ‘lights out’ when they were growing up.

12 thoughts on ““Lights out!” (Sheryl Gwyther)”

    1. Yes, I think the message here is – if you are going to be sneaky and read under the covers, please use a TORCH and do not use a candle!

      See you back here on 20 June for your undercover reading history, Dee!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Angela! I can remember keeping on with a book even when every creak in the house made me jump!

  1. Eleanor Farjeon also wrote the famous hymn, “Morning Has Broken”. Perhaps there’s a hidden meaning in the title for people who read by torchlight. 🙂

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