January 27, 2014
The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen
by Lemony Snicket
illustrated by Jon Klassen
Little Brown and Company
Lazlo was afraid of the Dark. If you live in certain places this might not matter but Lazlo lived in a big house with stair cases, shower curtains and corners. At night, the Dark crept through the house, under the creaky roof, but in the day time it retreated to the basement.
Lazlo tried to keep the Dark happy, more or less, by visiting it every morning. He’d open the basement door, greet the dark and then go on about his day. Lazlo thought that if he visited the Dark in its room, it would leave him alone in his.
Then one night the bulb in his nightlight burned out and the Dark called him to follow. Lazlo wasn’t sure why he should follow or where he was going but he clicked on his flashlight and followed.
I’m not going to spoil the ending the suffice it to say that nothing terrifying happens and by the last page, actually several pages before this, Lazlo is no longer afraid of the dark.
I love that this deals with such a common fear without ever condescending to the reader. There’s no “dont’ be afraid” or “it’s silly to be afraid.” Lazlo is afraid. Period. That’s what matters. I also love that Lazlo works through it himself — that means with no adult interference or involvement by older siblings. In fact, there are only two characters in the entire book — Lazlo and the Dark.
Jon Klassen’s illustrations are a perfect compliment to this text with broad swaths of darkness dominating some pages and lurking in the corners of others. There is also light, because you really can’t appreciate darkness without at least a little light, but the colors are muted and sunset rich. He also provides visual cues to let the reader see for themselves that Lazlo is no longer afraid; early in the story, Lazlo moves about in the evening with a flashlight. Late in the story, the flashlight is no longer needed.
Pick up this picture book today and share it with the young reader in your life. Even if they aren’t afraid of the dark, they will appreciate Lazlo’s ability to solve his own problems.