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The Dark by Lemony Snicket

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Snicket, L., & Klassen, J. (ill.) (2013). The Dark. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN: 9780316187480

Annotation: Laszlo is afraid of the dark that lives in his basement, until one night when the dark comes up from the basement to Laszlo’s room.

Reaction: Oh, this book. This book caught my eye for several reasons. First, the cover is really striking: all black, with just Laszlo and a few stairs shown above yellow block lettering. Second, it’s written by Lemony Snicket, of A Series of Unfortunate Events fame. Third, it’s illustrated by Jon Klassen, who wrote I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat. I was pretty excited to read this and see what Lemony Snicket could come up with for small children and how the author/illustrator pairing would work.

His story about a little boy who is scared of the dark living in his basement, which also sometimes lurks in other places, is matched perfectly with Klassen’s illustrations. Klassen conveys Laszlo’s fear even when we are only shown half his face. The house is drawn hugely and sparsely: no furniture or adornments on the walls, which adds to the feeling of creepiness and unease in the story. Many of the pages are black, dominated by the dark, with only Laszlo’s flashlight beam to light the way.

The beginning of the story is spooky and almost definitely too scary for me to try to read during storytime. Snicket uses the same sort of tone for the beginning of this book as he does for A Series of Unfortunate Events, which left me genuinely wondering if he might have written a child’s horror story in which the dark consumes Laszlo. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case. The resolution of the story and the conquering of Laszlo’s fear comes quietly, without too much fanfare or hooplah. It is simple and sort of brilliant and utterly reassuring.

I think this book could easily become a child’s favorite, and it certainly has become one of mine.

Media Used: gouache and digitally

Author’s Website (for his new series)

Illustrator’s Website


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Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza

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Driza, Debra. (2013). Mila 2.0. New York: Katherine Tegen Books. ISBN:

Annotation: Mila’s the new girl in a tiny farm town, and she’s just trying to survive high school and recover from the death of her father. Then her mom reveals a secret that changes her whole world.

Reaction: I think Mila is a great character. She embodies all the struggles of being a teenage girl, include an attempt to balance friendships versus boys and the love/hate feelings all teens experience towards their parents. I think she’s a super compelling character, and I enjoyed watching her hold onto her humanity in the midst of many challenges. She’s pretty complex, and I am interested in her continuing struggle to find a balance between her human self and her android self. She’s totally the best thing about this book.

I was super excited to read this, and I was a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty good book about a teenage robot, but I just felt that it was a little long with a little too much action and not quite enough plot for my tastes. Ultimately, I liked the book, but I’m not sure I like it enough to read the sequel. Driza does a lot of good things in this book, but I just felt like it dragged on a bit too long, and it’s 470 pages is significantly longer than many other YA novels. I also felt like her romantic interest, while establishing her human girl cred, was a little shoehorned into the story. Honestly, (small spoiler?) I kept expecting him to be somehow in league with her would-be captors.

I would totally recommend this book for people who are looking for some light science fiction, people who like stories about a robot with a heart of gold, and people who like sci-fi/fantasy featuring strong heroines.

Author’s Website