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)