by Lemony Snicket; illus. by Jon Klassen
Preschool, Primary Little, Brown 40 pp.
4/13 978-0-316-18748-0 $16.99
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.