Orion and the Dark – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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orionTitle: Orion and the Dark

Written and illustrated by: Emma Yarlett

Published by: Templar Books, an imprint of Candlewick Press, 2014

Themes/Topics: fear of the dark, fears, the dark

Suitable for ages: 4-7

Hardcover, 40 pages


My name is Orion,                                                                                                                  and I guess you could say                                                                                                        I am scared of a lot of things


Orion is scared of a lot of things, which his mum puts down to his big imagination. But most of all he’s scared of the dark. In a detailed double=paged spread, he tries everything to face his fear from inventing the eternal lightbulb to harnessing the sun. There are many manifestations of the dark, but the biggest and scariest is outside his bedroom window, so when Dark comes inside, what can a polite little boy do except introduce himself? To combat orion’s fear, The Dark decides to take the little boy on a nighttime adventure.

Why I like This Book:

Fantastic story about facing your fears, full of humor, momentum, trust and and moving parts. There are a couple of cut-out pages that enhance the story, providing a physical transition – Dark’s arm reaching out, and later, holding close. The pages are so detailed that it’s a difficult layout to do as a read aloud with an entire class, but in small groups it would work, where children will want to pause regularly during the reading to absorb the iteration and detail on the pages. I love how when Orion faces the biggest ‘dark’ he knows, the outside dark, night sky and Dark comes into his room, Orion’s manner insist he greet Dark politely. The endearing anthropomorphism of Dark and his imagination, which is as big as the Orions’s show children how fears and worries can be transformed into ‘friends’.

Yarlett’s color palette for this is gorgeous with plenty of teal and blue and occasional orange/pink. My favorite spread is the arrival of day! Dark and Orion’s characters’ pop and I love her great variety of font in the asides.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 10.45.10

‘Nobody is scared of their best friend’. 


This would be a great book to use as a conversation starter about fears.

It could be incorporated into a monster story time unit with preschoolers.

Don’t miss the interview that I did with Emma Yarlett here.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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10 Responses to Orion and the Dark – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Andrea says:

    This one sounds amusing and also touching. I’m going to look for it. The illustrations look amazing!

  2. This is a great bedtime read and wonderful discussion book with kids about what frightens them about the dark and other fears. There are many books with unique twists on the subject of the dark that could be paired with this one. The illustrations look wonderful! Excellent review.

  3. Manju Howard says:

    I really like the line – ‘Nobody is scared of their best friend.’ And the illustration reminds me of popsicles. Great PB!

  4. Nice share, thank-you. Lovely art.

  5. Wendy Greenley says:

    I loved Lemony Snicket’s THE DARK and I’m interested to see how this compares.

  6. Looks REAL nice – look forward to reading it!

  7. So interesting to pair this with Lemony Snicket’s THE DARK!

  8. barb says:

    Beautiful colours and a variety of fonts? That alone makes me want to check out this book. Thanks for featuring it!

  9. I’m guessing 99.9 % of kids could relate to this book! I certainly could as a child. Sounds like a unique and fun approach. Thanks for sharing!

  10. intriguing. a field trip with … “the Dark”. But not Snickett’s Dark. Definitely need to read this one.

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