Reviews for Dark
Booklist Reviews 2013 March #1
*Starred Review* What if the dark meant more than the absence of light? What if the dark were someone? Laszlo, dressed in blue footie jams, his hair precisely parted, is afraid of the dark. Mostly, the dark lives in the basement, but one night, when his night-light fails, it arrives in Laszlo's room. The dark leads Laszlo through the rickety house and down to the basement, and bids him to open the bottom drawer of an old dresser, where he finds night-light bulbs. Laszlo is emboldened, peace is restored, and Laszlo and the dark, presumably, live happily ever after. Snicket's atmospheric narrative personifies the dark with indelible character, its voice as creaky as the roof of the house, and as smooth and cold as the windows. Klassen renders the expansive, ramshackle house in mottled sepia tones, visible in the sharp beam of Laszlo's flashlight as it interrupts the flat, inky black. Even the dialogue respects the delineation, with Laszlo's words set in the swaths of light and the dark's written in the dark. But just as important are the things Klassen omits: rooms are empty of furniture and people. Laszlo feels alone. In its willingness to acknowledge the darkness, and the elegant art of that acknowledgment, The Dark pays profound respect to the immediacy of childhood experiences. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Snicket and Klassen? This'll be huge. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
BookPage Reviews 2013 April
Are you afraid of the dark?
Who wouldn’t be afraid of the dark, the mysterious thing that sometimes hides in the closet, sits behind the shower curtain and lives in the basement? Little Laszlo certainly is. Unorthodox children’s author Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events) and equally unconventional, Caldecott Award-winning illustrator Jon Klassen (This Is Not My Hat) team up to dispel Laszlo’s fears in a charmingly creepy picture book, simply titled The Dark.
Every morning Laszlo peeks at the dark in the basement and says hello, hoping that if he visits the dark’s room, maybe it won’t visit his. But one night the dark does visit his bedroom, luring him past the closet and the shower curtain and down the long stairs to the basement. Klassen’s gouache and digitally enhanced illustrations—with a retro design, muted golds from the evening light and an abundance of black—build the suspense and aptly depict Laszlo’s heightened fear.
After poetically explaining the need for closets (where would we keep our shoes, after all?) and shower curtains (we would splash water everywhere!) and even the dark itself (how would we know when we need a lightbulb?), the dark offers Laszlo just what he needs to feel secure again.
By avoiding the saccharine simplicity of many picture books on this topic, Snicket and Klassen reach children at their level, allowing them to explore their fear of the dark and overcome it on their own terms. Just imagine how this pair might handle a fear of hats! Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
When the comforting glow of Laszlo's nightlight goes out, the dark comes to visit and speaks to Laszlo: "I want to show you something." With his command of language, tone, and pacing, Snicket creates the perfect antidote to a universal fear. Using simple black lines and color contrasts to provide atmosphere and depth, Klassen captures the essence of Snicket's story.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #2
Leave it to Lemony Snicket to craft a story personifying "the dark" -- an idea all too real and frightening for children afraid of what lurks in the shadows. But they will find a kindred spirit in Laszlo, a scared boy living with the dark in a big house. Though the dark occasionally resides in the house's hidden places and outside every night, "mostly it spent its time in the basement." When the comforting glow of Laszlo's bedroom nightlight goes out one night, the dark comes to visit and speaks to Laszlo: "I want to show you something." So Laszlo, with his trusty flashlight in hand, follows the dark's voice downstairs. Though the mood is ominous as the dark lures Laszlo into its basement room, a page of narration about the dark's function serves to break the tension before the bright, satisfying, and funny resolution. With his command of language, tone, and pacing, Snicket creates the perfect antidote to a universal fear. Klassen's spare gouache and digital illustrations in a quiet black, brown, and white palette (contrasted with Laszlo's light blue footy pajamas and the yellow light bulb) are well suited for a book about the unseen. Using simple black lines and color contrasts to provide atmosphere and depth, Klassen captures the essence of Snicket's story. If you're reading this one at night, be sure to have your trusty flashlight handy -- just in case. cynthia k. ritter
Kirkus Reviews 2013 February #2
Are you afraid of the dark? Laszlo is. The dark mostly keeps to the basement, but sometimes it hides in the closet or behind the shower curtain. Every morning Laszlo greets the dark when it is safely back in the basement, calling "Hi, dark," down the staircase. He hopes that this acknowledgement will keep it from coming to him in the night, when a night light illuminates his bedroom as he goes to sleep. He keeps a flashlight at the ready on his pillow, just in case. And one night, the dark does come--presumably the night light has gone out. Laszlo answers the dark's call to the basement, where he sees a small dresser. "Bottom drawer," the dark says, and inside he finds light bulbs. The next scene shows his bedroom now illuminated by the returned soft glow of the night light, and Laszlo no longer fears the dark. Klassen's artwork outshines the text, which, although poetic and begging to be read aloud, falters in its pacing and delivers an anticlimactic (if friendly) resolution to its initially creepy tone. The gouache-and-digital illustrations make the most of the references to light and dark, however, confining the palette to muted tones that contrast satisfyingly with the inky black. Laszlo, though a new creation for this story, somehow seems satisfyingly familiar. A lovely if uneven offering about a common childhood fear. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2013 October
This cleverly illustrated book tells the story of how a young boy stops being afraid of the dark. Lazlo is an ordinary child with a common fear of the dark; Lazlo knows "the dark" lives in his house-sometimes in a closet or behind a shower curtain, but mostly in the basement. One night, the dark visits him in his room and invites him to the basement where it wants to show him something. Flashlight in hand, Lazlo goes to the basement, where he is given the gift of a nightlight. After that, Lazlo is no longer afraid of the dark. While the text has a suspenseful tone without being too scary, the illustrations are what make this story a stand-out. Klassen does a fantastic job of creating shadows and showing dark and light. Readers are going to want to read this one over and over. Laura D'Amato, Library Media Specialist, Berea, Ohio [Editor's Note: Available in e-book format.] HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 January #3
Snicket and Klassen are an inspired pairing in this suspenseful take on childhood fear. Laszlo, a solemn boy in blue pajamas, is scared of the dark, and it's easy to see why. He lives in a house with "a creaky roof, smooth, cold windows, and several sets of stairs." The floors are bare, the halls are empty, and the windows are uncurtained. And the dark in his house is not just any darkâ€"it has a will of its own. "Sometimes the dark hid in the closet. Sometimes it sat behind the shower curtain," writes Snicket (13 Words). Klassen (This Is Not My Hat) constructs his spreads with quiet finesse, playing expanses of shadow and darkness off small, constricted areas of light, as the boy roams through the house. Still, Laszlo's fear does not translate into a look of terror; his dot eyes and straight-line mouth signal calm. Sometimes, he even talks to the dark ("Hi, dark," he says down the basement stairs). One fateful night, though, the dark talks back, surrounding Laszlo as he lies in bed. Only the boy's face and hand, clutching his trusty flashlight, can be seen. The rest of the page is a sea of black. "Laszlo," the dark says, "I want to show you something." In the deliciously tense sequence that follows, the dark beckons Laszlo into the basement, pointing him toward a closed dresser drawer. Laszlo's flashlight illuminates only a small wedge of the basement stairwell; beyond his beam of light, the black closes in. The darkness is not just a condition, readers understand; it's an actual entity, palpable and breathing. At the moment Laszlo steps closest to the dresser, Snicket intervenes with a diabolically timed soliloquy on the philosophical need for creaky roofs, cold windows, and darkness, delivered at exactly the moment the fear of these things looms largest. "Without a closet, you would have nowhere to put your shoes," he points out, as readers wait with bated breath to find out what lurks inside the dresser, "and without the dark, everything would be light." In a final twistâ€"and a moment of uncharacteristic gentleness from Snicketâ€"the dark offers Laszlo a drawerful of light bulbs that are just the right size for his nightlight. "The dark kept on living with Laszlo, but it never bothered him again," Snicket concludes. While it might not combat fear of the dark, it's an ingenius introduction to horror movieâ€"style catharsis, and a memorable ride on the emotional roller coaster that great storytelling creates. Ages 3-6. Author's agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. Illustrator's agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Apr.) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2013 April
PreS-Gr 2--Snicket and Klassen present a picture book that tackles a basic childhood worry with suspense, a dash of humor, and a satisfying resolution. Laszlo, clad in pajamas, is afraid of the dark, which spends most of the day in the basement but spreads itself throughout the boy's rambling home at night. Every morning, he opens the basement door, peeks down, and calls out, "Hi, dark," hoping that if he visits the dark in its room, it will not return the favor. However, when Laszlo's night-light burns out one evening, the dark does come to call, declaring in a voice as creaky as the house's roof, "I want to show you something." The youngster, who bravely shines his flashlight into the inky night, is slowly coaxed down to the basement and a forgotten-about chest of drawers ("Come closer… Even closer"). Here, Snicket keeps readers teetering on the edges of their seats, taunting them with a lengthy and convoluted aside. Finally, the boy is instructed to open the bottom drawer, where he finds… a supply of light bulbs. There's a sense of closure, as Laszlo comes to terms with the dark, which still lives in his home but never bothers him again. The understated illustrations keep the focus on the emotional context, showing a serious-faced protagonist, a stark setting, and shadow-filled corners. Faded hues contrast with the ominous blackness, providing visual punch and adding credence to the boy's fears. Fresh, kid-savvy, and ultimately reassuring.--Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal [Page 144]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.