The Dark
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The Dark

4.7 8
by Lemony Snicket, Jon Klassen

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Lazlo is afraid of the dark. It hides in closets and sometimes sits behind the shower curtain, but mostly it lives in the basement. One night, when Lazlo’s nightlight burns out, the dark comes to visit him in his room. “Lazlo,” the Dark says. “I want to show you something.” And so Lazlo descends the basement stairs to face his fears


Lazlo is afraid of the dark. It hides in closets and sometimes sits behind the shower curtain, but mostly it lives in the basement. One night, when Lazlo’s nightlight burns out, the dark comes to visit him in his room. “Lazlo,” the Dark says. “I want to show you something.” And so Lazlo descends the basement stairs to face his fears and discover a few comforting facts about the mysterious presence with whom all children must learn to live.

Beautifully rendered with sympathy and wit, this first collaboration between Snicket and Klassen offers a fresh take on a universal childhood experience.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Bruce Handy
Daniel Handler, writing as Lemony Snicket, does a wonderful job of…I was going to write "personifying the dark," but "thingifying" is more like it…The illustrations by Jon Klassen…are fully up to Handler's lovely-spooky conception, poetic and concrete in equal measure.
The Washington Post - Kristi Elle Jemtegaard
Lemony Snicket's succinct text is as deadpan as ever…What makes this book stand out above other books on childhood fears is the fact that Laszlo negotiates directly with the living, breathing dark—and comes to terms with it in a way that children will understand intuitively. No lectures (or adults!) are needed. These cunningly designed illustrations—wedges, cones and arcs of light floating in blackness—illuminate the story with impeccable grace.
Publishers Weekly
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 â??a creaky roof, smooth, cold windows, and several sets of stairs.â? The floors are bare, the halls are empty, and the windows are uncurtained. And the dark in his house is not just any dark—it has a will of its own. â??Sometimes the dark hid in the closet. Sometimes it sat behind the shower curtain,â? 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 (â??Hi, dark,â? 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. â??Laszlo,â? the dark says, â??I want to show you something.â? 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. â??Without a closet, you would have nowhere to put your shoes,â? he points out, as readers wait with bated breath to find out what lurks inside the dresser, â??and without the dark, everything would be light.â? In a final twist—and a moment of uncharacteristic gentleness from Snicket—the dark offers Laszlo a drawerful of light bulbs that are just the right size for his nightlight. â??The dark kept on living with Laszlo, but it never bothered him again,â? Snicket concludes. While it might not combat fear of the dark, it's an ingenius introduction to horror movie—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.)
The Bulletin
* "An offbeat -- and spookily atmospheric -- approach to fear of the dark, with a creative story and high-impact enjoyable thrill."
Library Media Connection
* "Readers are going to want to read this one over and over."
From the Publisher
New York Times Best Illustrated

2014 Charlotte Zolotow Award Winner
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
ALSC Notable Books for Children

*"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."

The Horn Book, starred review

*"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."—Booklist, starred review

*"While it might not combat fear of the dark, it's an ingenius introduction to horror movie—style catharsis, and a memorable ride on the emotional roller coaster that great storytelling creates."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

*"Snicket and Klassen present a picture book that tackles a basic childhood worry with suspense, a dash of humor, and a satisfying resolution."—School Library Journal, starred review

* "An offbeat — and spookily atmospheric — approach to fear of the dark, with a creative story and high-impact enjoyable thrill."—The Bulletin, starred review

* "Readers are going to want to read this one over and over."—Library Media Connection, starred review"

Laszlo, though a new creation for this story, somehow seems satisfyingly familiar."—Kirkus Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Laszlo is afraid of the dark that seems to live in his house. It's in a closet, behind the shower curtain, but mainly in the basement during the day. At night the dark spreads itself through the house. One night the dark comes up to Laszlo's bedroom. It wants to show him something downstairs. Laszlo has his flashlight as he follows the dark into the basement. The dark tells him to open the bottom drawer of a chest. There he finds light bulbs for a night-light. It's no longer dark in his room. Laszlo says, "Thank you." The dark doesn't bother him again. The digitally manipulated gouache paintings that illuminate the simple, brief text are almost like architectural drawings. Sharp edges define spaces, offering contrast between such light sources as the flashlight and the pitch-blackness. On the jacket/cover, the pajama-clad youngster is at the top of some stairs leading into a dense black that fills the rest; light yellow letters give us the title, author, and illustrator. This book may make the dark a more friendly character for those who fear him. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
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)

Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Age Range:
4 - 8 Years


Meet the Author

Lemony Snicket had an unusual education which may or may not explain his ability to evade capture. He is the author of the 13 volumes in A Series of Unfortunate Events, several picture books including The Dark, and the books collectively titled All The Wrong Questions.

Jon Klassen grew up in Niagara Falls, Canada, and now lives in Los Angeles, California. He is the Caldecott Award-winning author and illustrator of I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat, as well as the illustrator of Sam and Dave Dig a Hole and Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett; The Dark by Lemony Snicket; House Held Up by Trees by Ted Kooser; Cats' Night Out by Caroline Stutson; and the first three books in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series.

Brief Biography

Snicket is something of a nomad. Handler lives in San Francisco, California.
Date of Birth:
February 28, 1970
Place of Birth:
Handler was born in San Francisco in 1970, and says Snicket's family has roots in a land that's now underwater.
Handler is a 1992 graduate of Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

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The Dark 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
thereader18 More than 1 year ago
Lemony Snicket who is known best for his dark humor in A Series of Unfortunate Events has a new picture book that is even darker. The Dark is the story of a little boy named Laszlo. Laszlo is afraid of the dark. He notices all the places in the house that the dark hides. One night the dark lures Laszlo out of bed and into the basement where he will make a discovery. Lemony Snicket&rsquo;s style is always very popular and I have no doubt that this book will find an audience. It will be especially good for children ages 6-7 who are not ready to read the Series of Unfortunate Events books but want to read something by this author. The illustrations were very well done and unique. They were done in gouache and digitally. This gave the pictures a very unique look.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Alysha Allen for Readers' Favorite As a young child afraid of the dark, Lazlo will not go down into his basement. But he cannot help avoiding the dark in his own home. The dark not only lives in the basement. Lazlo finds the dark in his own room, in the closet, and even outside his window. One morning, however, Lazlo gains the courage to stand up to the dark, and the results are what he had expected&hellip; As a previous reader of Lemony Snicket&rsquo;s works in years past, grown now as an adult, I can still appreciate his often quirky style, and the characters in his stories that were both odd and yet strangely relatable to the fears and concerns of our own lives. I found The Dark just as pleasurably wacky and creatively stimulating as his previous stories, and as being suitable to read for even the most abecedarian, or newbie reader.  The Dark humanizes the abstract concept of the darkness that pervades our rooms in order to make sleeping in the dark for a person of any age less a cause for anxiety, than more perhaps as a necessary comfort -- who needs stuffed animals anymore? Well, Lazlo may not, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean that we&rsquo;re any less willing to sleep in the dark; we just would rather not part with our beloved teddy-bears. Either way, once reading The Dark, your child -- and perhaps even you -- might not be so afraid of walking into a dark basement. This is a very useful skill to learn if your power has been cut by a thunderstorm. I shall be looking forward to reading this book to my  niece and nephew, who are both toddlers. If not already, The Dark will indelibly mark Snicket as an exemplary children&rsquo;s author for new and future generations. His works will be found in the bookshelves and hands of many young readers, or those who are only just beginning to read.  I believe Lemony Snicket should even be hailed as the new Tim Burton, but instead even better, as a writer of children&rsquo;s books. And like Lazlo, we hope that you&rsquo;ll begin to be able to appreciate the dark just as much as you do the light, for without the dark there would be no light.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my 4 yeas old daughter who is scared of dark and wants to leave light on all night. This story illustrate dark as sort of nice guy who is looking after the child living same house as a boy. I think my daughter is ease of dark more so than before this story. Definitely one of my favorite though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Artwork is well done, writing is interesting, and the story is fresh and unique. Highly recommended for children and young adults.
JKW24 More than 1 year ago
I am impressed that the story allowed the child to resolve his own fear. Teaching/allowing children to think for themselves (he knew where the light was) and be independent (he went into the dark to obtain the light) will grow their character into a whole person. The step by step process was true genius.
PAwriter4kids More than 1 year ago
Making "the dark" a character in the book, Lemony Snicket manages to make this friendship story believable. The hardest part to believe is that Laszlo would follow the dark into the basement when it beckons to him--but perhaps kids are getting braver! If your child is afraid of the dark this book provides great talking points. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very clever way to address a fear of many children.
CanadaInker4 More than 1 year ago
Two amazing,  talented &quot;greats&quot; of the children's storybook world team up together to give us a book that takes on one of the most common childhood fears....The Dark.  Written in short sentences, filled full of suspense and anticipation this book will have your child not only confront that fear, but come to terms with it and finally, embrace it. &quot;You might be afraid of the dark, but the dark is not afraid of you.  That's why the dark is always close by.&quot; &quot;Lazlo is afraid of the dark.  The dark lives in the same house as Lazlo.  Mostly, though, the dark stays in the basement and doesn't come into Lazlo's room.  But one night it does.&quot;  Lazlo in his powder blue pajamas always has his trusty friend, the flashlight with him....just in case.  The night his nightlight burns out he is forced to face his deepest fears.  Lazlo then takes his flashlight and goes on a conquest which leads him right into the presence of Darkness itself.  Snicket personifies Darkness giving it a voice and characteristics and it calls out to Lazlo, &quot;I want to show you something.&quot;  Lazlo musters up all the courages within him and clinging onto his trusty flashlight he follows Darkness into the black, scary basement where Darkness lives.  While there he makes a discovery that puts his mind at ease and comes to the realization that Darkness is not to be feared after all.  &quot;Darkness is not afraid of you.  The darkness is a necessary component of the universe, not least of all because, if there is no darkness, how would you ever know if you needed a light bulb. &quot; Such words of wisdom to ponder. Jon Klassan ( a Canadian, I might add...yea)  uses gouache and digital tools which work perfectly with Snickety's sparse text.  His colour pallet is subdued and the black, the blackest black, ever.  The glare of Lazlo's flashlight cuts through that black giving comfort to the reader and renders hope.  It is a fabulous book that will surely become a classic.  I love the last page where you see little Lazlo playing with a few of his toys as the sun is setting and his flashlight is nowhere to be seen.  He has finally conquered his fear of the dark.