Review: The Dark

The Dark

by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Find it at: Your library | Amazon | Indiebound

Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (April 2, 2013)

Recommended reading age: 3 & up

In a nutshell: Did you used to run up the basement stairs after shutting off the light? Hide under the covers when you heard creaks in the middle of the night? Do you still? For those whose nerves are tested when the sun goes down the notorious Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler’s pseudonym), and Caldecott winning illustrator Jon Klassen, have teamed up for a picture book about The Dark.

Laszlo is afraid of the dark. It hides in the closet, behind the shower curtain, and spends most of its time in the basement. But at night it is everywhere. Laszlo would go visit and talk to the dark during the day, hoping this would help it steer clear of visiting his bedroom at night. That is, until one night when his nightlight inexplicably goes out, and the dark comes to his room. And it talks back. Creepy! Well, just a wee bit creepy. The reader follows Laszlo through his house, flashlight in hand, exploring the usual dark hangouts as the dark persuades him to enter the basement. In the darkness of the basement, he finds an unexpected surprise which will reassure readers that the dark might not be so bad after all.

As someone who is still timid of the dark, I know all too well of the anxiety that comes with turning the lights off. Like most children, the fear is terrifying and plays tricks on your senses. The Dark takes into account these fears and curiosities most children (and some adults) have when it comes to the things that go bump in the night, the complete unknown, and uses that fear to shed light on what the dark really is. Dark is the house that keeps you warm. Dark is the nighttime sky looking down from above when you look up at the stars. Day and night, light and dark are elements of life. Without one the other wouldn’t exist. Laszlo is much braver than I would have ever been. The child version of me would have been riddled with fear and stayed under my covers until dawn. It is reassuring that he was more interested in the dark than afraid. It is a good lesson for readers to test their fears and not to be so distressed by the unknown.

 Now, let’s take a minute to talk about the talent that is Jon Klassen.  Jon Klassen’s warm hues during the daytime and sharp, geometric contrasting illustrations during the Laszlo’s adventure during the nighttime are mesmerizing. I couldn’t imagine a better companion to Lemony Snicket’s pitch-perfect prose.

Take a gander…

Children and adults will be won over by this eerie, spectacular book. For those who cringe at the thought of basements and dark places, they may learn that there really isn’t anything to be afraid of and might even take comfort in The Dark.

Don’t take my word for it: Review from Fuse 8 Production.


Extras: The official website of Lemony Snicket and the site for his new middle grade fiction book All the Wrong Questions.

Website and blog home for Jon Klassen

Helpful tips on how kids can overcome their fears of the dark.

Source of book reviewed: Galley provided by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.


5 Responses to “Review: The Dark”

  1. Danzel says:

    Ooo, I’m jealous! I’ve been waiting anxiously for this one to come out! I’m impatient for April! :o)

  2. Really looking forward to this one, have ordered it from our library based on your review! Thanks so much! :)


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  1. […] Excellent use of white space (in black!) in this cover to show the dark. The illustrative style is perfect to subtly suggest our childhood fear. This is the kind of cover that makes you want to read the book. […]

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