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The Dark

by Lemony Snicket; Jon Klassen, illus.

The Dark is a fantastic collision of literary phenomena: Lemony Snicket and Caldecott Medal winner Jon Klassen (This Is Not My Hat), who together create a story evoking the spooky old poem “In a Dark, Dark Wood” with a fresh twist. Darkness here is anthropomorphized not into a ghost, but an ambient character who spends most of his time in the basement of a house inhabited by a small boy named Laszlo.

“Laszlo was afraid of the dark,” the book begins. The accompanying illustration shows Laszlo playing with his trucks in a shrinking ray of light, the sun outside the window starting to set. When the sun goes down, shadows fall throughout the house, and Laszlo fends them off with his ever-present flashlight and night light. But when the bulb in his night light burns out, Laszlo is forced to face his deepest fears.

“I want to show you something,” the dark says to Laszlo, leading him through the spooky nighttime house, the creepiness abated by Laszlo’s flashlight beam. The effect is dramatic, with each page rendered entirely in black except for the spots where Laszlo’s beam shines. This puts the little boy firmly in control of where his story goes.

“You might be afraid of the dark, but the dark is not afraid of you,” Snicket tells the reader, going on to explain (in typical Snicketian fashion) that darkness is a necessary component of the universe, not least of all because, if there were no darkness, how would you ever know if you needed a light bulb?

Laszlo is guided into the basement, where he makes a discovery that puts his mind at ease and reveals the dark to be not so malevolent after all. An adult reader will appreciate the depth of this quiet adventure, while a child will be delighted by its smart resolution.


Reviewer: Kerry Clare

Publisher: HarperCollins Canada


Price: $19.99

Page Count: 40 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 978-1-44341-794-5

Released: April

Issue Date: 2013-6

Categories: Picture Books

Age Range: 3-7

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