Monday, November 18, 2013

REVIEW: The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Rating: 4/5 Stars
Genre: Picture Book
Audience: Preschool to 2nd Grade

Summary: Laszlo lives in a large house with a creaky roof and several intimidating staircases, but it is the dark that scares him. It hides in corners and comes out at night, but most of all, it lives in the basement. Then one night, the dark comes to Laszlo's room and speaks to him, urging Laszlo to visit the one place he fears most.

First Line: "Laszlo was afraid of the dark."

Tracy's Thoughts: From the moment I first heard of this book, I was psyched. Yes; I'm a grown woman without children excited over a picture book! But it's a collaboration between Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen! I loved the dark, edgy humor of Klassen's I Want My Hat Back and thought a book by Klassen and Lemony Snicket about a child's fear of the dark would be perfect. And the duo does not disappoint.

This imaginative, suspenseful picture book manages to be both appropriately eerie and oddly comforting (in a Lemony Snicket kind of way!). Here, the dark is a living, breathing entity. As least it is to Laszlo, who sleeps with a flashlight and avoids shadowy corners. Most of the illustrations are deceptively simple two-page spreads depicting the interplay of light and shadow, with solemn little Laszlo looking on warily. The house is austere and barren, giving the dark room to expand. Overall, the muted color scheme and mildly creepy tone of the text compliment one another perfectly. And after Laszlo comes to an understanding of sorts with his nemesis, the ending comes full circle. Only now, instead of watching the creeping shadows with suspicion as the sun sets outside, Laszlo is oblivious to the coming night and plays happily with his toy trucks, his flashlight nowhere in sight.

For a completely different take on nighttime fears, I highly recommend I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll.

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