The Dark – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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15790852Title: THE DARK

Written by Lemony Snicket

Illustrated by Jon Klassen

Published by Harper Collins, June 27, 2013

Ages: 4-8

Themes: the dark, fear of the dark

Opening Lines:

Laszlo was afraid of the dark.                                                                                              The dark lived in the same house as Laszlo,                                                                           a big place with a creaky roof,                                                                                      smooth cold windows,                                                                                                        and several sets of stairs.


Laszlo, like many little boys, is afraid of the dark. But the dark is not afraid of little boys. The dark shares a house with Laszlo, where it lives in the basement. Laszlo is afraid of the dark, but what can he do about it? It’s everywhere. Well, predominantly in the basement. In the mornings Laslzo would open the basement door and say,

“Hi… Hi, dark.” But there was never any reply.

One night the dark comes up from the basement into Laszlo’s room and persuades Laszlo to descend to the basement where it will give Laszlo something, that will help Laszlo. This kid has gumption, as even with a flashlight, I don’t know if I would have gone into the basement.This is a story about how Laszlo overcomes his fear of the dark, or on a meta level, how we can meet our fears and overcome them.

Why I like this book:

I am wondering if I could get away with personifying the dark with the same punch as Lemony Snicket! It hides, it sits, it gazes, but this is never done visually, only with words. Klassen’s illustrations are full of realism, with, obviously, much black, dominating most spreads. The flash-lit slants are penetrating and raise just the right amount of questioning in the reader. The center spread surprises with a full page of text, beige on black – a picture book exposition on the role of dark… It surprises as the rest of the text is sparse and rhythmic. Laszlo and the reader come away with an appreciation of the benign role of darkness and I think this is one of the best picture books I have read that addresses this childhood fear. For me it is a comforting allegorical story, as it talks about a meeting not a confronting! And the pairing of Snicket and Klassen is sublime.


I discovered a great post on Growing a Jeweled Rose’s blog on helping children overcome fears.

Marcie Coleen on the Write Routine suggests making THE DARK a paired reading with BLACKOUT by John Rocco.

Video book trailer of THE DARK

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

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14 Responses to The Dark – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. This pairing of superpower author and illustrator was bound to be special. I know plenty of adults who could stand to read this book.

  2. Julie says:

    Mmm. I really appreciate this book!

  3. Fascinating plot and illustrations, Joanna. . .thanks for sharing this one with us!

  4. Ooooh, I’ve been looking forward to reading this one. I’m so glad you chose it. It looks like it will be worth the wait. Thanks.

  5. I LOVE this book! So glad you like it too! 😀

  6. I have yet to read this. It sounds so funky and useful. Cheers, Joanna.

  7. Sounds like a great book, Joanna. Love it’s simplicity!

  8. I love how he anthropomorphisizes the dark, as if the dark were a real object. This looks like a great book for the preschool set, where fears of the dark are very big and very real.

  9. Wow! What a pair! Snicket and Klassen! This book looks like a good one for kids who deal with this common childhood fear. The art must be amazing. Thanks so much for sharing, Joanna! 🙂

  10. Rhythm says:

    This one has been on our wish list for awhile. A favorite pairing that can’t be passed up! Enjoyed your review!

  11. I read this book during the summer. I absolutely loved it and found myself reading it several times before I returned it to the library. Brilliant writing and illustrations.

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