What There Is Before There Is Anything There: A Scary Story

( 1 )

Overview

Every night when his parents turn off the light, strange creatures descend from the black space where the ceiling used to be . . . First comes one, then another, and then more and more. They stand all around him, staring, not saying a word. And then, worst of all, comes the dark, shapeless one that tells him, “I am what’s there before there is anything there . . .” Liniers’ art, reminiscent of Hergé and other great comic book artists, feelingly portrays the little boy’s growing terror and his frantic dash for his...

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Overview

Every night when his parents turn off the light, strange creatures descend from the black space where the ceiling used to be . . . First comes one, then another, and then more and more. They stand all around him, staring, not saying a word. And then, worst of all, comes the dark, shapeless one that tells him, “I am what’s there before there is anything there . . .” Liniers’ art, reminiscent of Hergé and other great comic book artists, feelingly portrays the little boy’s growing terror and his frantic dash for his parents’ bedroom. Combined with hand-lettering, it creates the feeling of a graphic novel for very young readers. Destined to become a classic about nighttime fears (like Paul Galdone’s The Teeny-Tiny Woman), this story resonates with young children afraid of the dark. They're reassured to see that, although the little boy’s fears don’t go away, he does find a way to cope with them.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Maria Russo
The renowned Argentine cartoonist lets his subversive flag fly in this canny and genuinely scary picture book…A certain kind of child, and more than a few adults, will find a paradoxical comfort in the honest lack of answers or uplift.
Publishers Weekly
★ 08/04/2014
In an about-face from The Big Wet Balloon, his sweet-tempered English-language debut, accomplished Argentinian cartoonist Liniers presents an unsettling look at nighttime fears. A boy lies in bed at bedtime, staring at the ceiling. Shadowy, oppressive cross-hatching hints at what’s to come. Wished a cheery good night by his parents, the boy waits alone in the dark. “Where there was a ceiling, now there is nothing,” hand-lettered text explains dispassionately. “He knows that they are coming. They come every night when the ceiling disappears.” First to arrive at the foot of his bed is a tiny being with a nose like a stinger and a black umbrella. More creatures follow—half-comic, half-frightful, masked, and grasping—followed by a giant, writhing mass of blackness with rootlike tentacles. “I am what there is before there is anything there,” it says, reaching with all its arms for the boy, who bolts to his parents’ bedroom. “Not again?” says his father. “It’s just your imagination,” says his mother. But even his parents’ bed isn’t safe. Fear is the new fun, and Jon Klassen and Lemony Snicket’s The Dark has an impressive rival. Ages 4–7. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"Fear is the new fun, and Jon Klassen and Lemony Snicket's The Dark has an impressive rival." — Publishers Weekly, starred review

"This bravely existential picture book eschews cute monsters in closets to capture the true reality of night terrors." — Horn Book

"The book is brilliant in its confirmation of an essential truth of childhood." — Kirkus Reviews

Praise for The Big Wet Balloon:
"An excellent example of how well comics can work for early readers, this warm and accessible story is sure to be a favorite.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Children's Literature - Tima Murrell
Every single night a little boy says good night to his parents and then sees the same little monsters. And every night they say the same thing; then the ceiling disappears and a very scary voice begins talking to him. So every single night this little boy runs to get in bed with his parents. And each night they let him sleep with them one more time. The illustrations are cartoon style and slightly dark. The story and illustrations complement each other. The flow of the words is lyrical and children will love the cadence. The point of the story appears to be helping children get over their fears and nightmares. Reactions to the story may vary, however, with some loving the story and others having nightmares. The book could easily become a favorite with many families, but parents should consider previewing the book before reading it to their children. Reviewer: Tima Murrell; Ages 4 to 7.
School Library Journal
11/01/2014
K-GR 2—Liniers's story tackles one of the biggest childhood fears: the dark. A young boy's nighttime rituals are observed as his parents bid him good night. When the light is turned out, darkness creeps in and strange creatures emerge, surrounding his bed and staring at him. The child ultimately asks to sleep with his parents, but the real twist comes when the first bizarre being, a blue blob with a long pointed nose, appears at the foot of his mom and dad's bed. Liniers's cartoons effectively capture an imagination run wild. This is the perfect book for those who loved Jon Klassen and Lemony Snicket's The Dark (Little, Brown, 2013).—Krishna Grady, Darien Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
2014-07-16
A lad is tormented by existential boojums every night in this comically eerie variation on a common bedtime trope. No sooner do his parents bid him sweet dreams and switch off the light than the ceiling becomes "a black hole…black and infinite"—through which float small creatures of diverse shape who stand around his bed and stare at him fixedly. At last, the arrival of a slit-eyed blot that reaches out with twiggy tentacles and whispers, "I am what there is before there is anything there," sends him pelting toward the parental bedroom. "It's just your imagination," soothes his mother, oblivious to the creature that floats into view on the last page. Liniers depicts the grown-ups from neck down to create a child-level perspective, but his dot-eyed, angst-ridden protagonist could be any age. Heavily crosshatched shadows and nighttime visitors with mildly grotesque features add appropriately spooky notes. Snuggling between parents ("But this is the last time") banishes those boogeymen, right? Wrong.The book is brilliant in its confirmation of an essential truth of childhood, but that doesn't make it any less unsettling, though possibly more for adult readers than for children. (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554983858
  • Publisher: Groundwood Books
  • Publication date: 9/9/2014
  • Edition description: Translatio
  • Pages: 24
  • Sales rank: 731,194
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Liniers is a cartoonist from Argentina who was born in Buenos Aires in 1973. His work has appeared internationally in newspapers, books, and magazines, including Rolling Stone and Spirou. He has created a daily comic strip for the Argentine newspaper La Nación for more than ten years. His U.S. children’s book debut, The Big Wet Balloon, was recently published in English and Spanish editions, was named a Parents Best Book of the Year, and received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and The Horn Book Review. Liniers enjoys travel and often accompanies his musician-friend Kevin Johansen on tour. He lives with his family in Buenos Aires. Elisa Amado lives in Toronto.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 2, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Every single night a little boy says good night to his parents a

    Every single night a little boy says good night to his parents and then sees the same little monsters. And every night they say the same thing and then the ceiling disappears and a very scary voice begins talking to him. So every single night this little boy runs to get in bed with his parents. And each night they let him sleep with them one more time. The illustrations are cartoon style and slightly dark. The story and illustrations complement each other. The flow of the words is lyrical and children will love the cadence. The point of the story appears to be helping children get over their fears and nightmares. My eight year son loved the story and it sparked his imagination. It scared my five year old daughter and gave her nightmares. The book could easily become a favorite with many families, but parents should consider previewing the book before reading it to their children.

    I received this book free of charge from Children's Lit in exchange for my honest review.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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