The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Laszlo is scared of the dark. You know, that darkness that is always there, hiding in corners and behind the shower curtain, and especially the dark that lives down in the basement. At night the dark would spread around the entire old creaky house and all of its staircases, but in the day it retreated to the basement. Laszlo would visit the dark every morning, from the top of the steps into the black basement. He would say hi, thinking that maybe then the dark wouldn’t feel the need to visit him in his room at night anymore. But that didn’t work, the dark still came at night. Luckily Laszlo slept with a flashlight on his pillow and a nightlight on the wall, so the dark stayed away. That is until one night when his nightlight burned out and the dark started talking to Laszlo.
I can’t think of a stronger author and illustrator match than this one. Snicket turns on the creep factor in this book in a way that will have children leaning in closer, cuddling tighter, and listening to every single word. There are the noises of the house, the scary basement, and the series of staircases. But mostly there is the darkness itself, a second character in the book and written about with almost poetic phrasing. This is one beautifully written book.
Klassen plays so much with light and shadow here. He uses the darkness beautifully as both a frame for his images but also as the thick lines of objects. Then there are the pictures of the cool daylight and the fierce warmth of the nightlight that burns almost like a flame. This is one beautifully illustrated book.
One of my favorite picture books of the year, this book reads aloud perfectly, the tension growing and growing until it’s almost explosive. One can almost hear the dark chuckling along. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.