Picture Book Nook: The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

What do you get when you bring together the author of weird and wonderful stories, Lemony Snicket, and the award-winning illustrator Jon Klassen?  You get The Dark, a whimsical tale with stunning illustrations about a boy who is afraid of the dark.

Laszlo is afraid of the dark.  He lives in a big house, with a ‘creaky roof, smooth, cold windows and several flights of stairs.’  The dark also lives in this house and it hides in lots of different places. Laszlo thinks that if he visits the dark in the dark’s room, maybe it won’t come and visit Laszlo in his room.  However, one night it does come and visit Laszlo and tells him that it has something to show him…down in the basement.

The Dark is a unique take on the theme of being scared of the dark and it’s a wonderful collaboration between these two very talented people.  Jon Klassen’s illustrations are the perfect match for Lemony Snicket’s delightful and humourous text.  I really love Jon’s illustration style as he achieves so much with very little detail.  The way that he has contrasted the light and dark in this book is spectacular.  The dark is a character in the story and I love the way that Jon has portrayed this, especially when the dark is hiding in the cupboard or behind the shower curtain.  Some of the pages are almost completely black, apart from Laszlo and the details that we see in the beam of his flashlight.  The text has a uniquely Lemony Snicket style and tone, and it certainly took me by surprise.  I love the language that he uses to describe the house and the dark itself.

‘The voice of the dark was as creaky as the roof of the house, and as smooth and cold as the windows, and even though the dark was right next to Laszlo, the voice seemed very far away.’

If you know a child that is scared of the dark, The Dark, is the perfect reassuring story to read to them.  It’s also the perfect book for Jon Klassen fans who will be drooling over his illustrations.

Picture Book Nook: A Patch of Black by Rachel Rooney and Deborah Allwright

I came across this delightful picture book last week when I was putting new books out for display.  A Patch of Black is one of the best picture books I’ve seen that’s aimed at children who are scared of the dark and it’s a wonderful bedtime story.  It starts with a mother and her child in the girl’s bedroom getting ready for bed.  The mother says to her child,

“Don’t be afraid of the darkness, dear.
Don’t be afraid of the dark.
What can you do with a patch of black,
a moon and a silver star?

The mother then tells the child about all the different places and things she could dream about when she’s sleeping.  There are pirates and mermaids, princesses and dragons, ice cream lakes and milkshake streams, and much more.  The mother’s refrain is repeated throughout the book and is followed by a different dream land.

It’s a very reassuring story that will have children imagining their own dream lands.  The illustrations are also reassuring and comforting, as they’re light, bright and full of excitement.  If you want a bedtime story that you’ll be happy to read again and again, grab a copy of A Patch of Black by Rachel Rooney and Deborah Allwright.