School Library Journal
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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 (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* What if the dark meant more than the absence of light? What if the dark were someone? Laszlo, dressed in blue footie jams, his hair precisely parted, is afraid of the dark. Mostly, the dark lives in the basement, but one night, when his night-light fails, it arrives in Laszlo's room. The dark leads Laszlo through the rickety house and down to the basement, and bids him to open the bottom drawer of an old dresser, where he finds night-light bulbs. Laszlo is emboldened, peace is restored, and Laszlo and the dark, presumably, live happily ever after. Snicket's atmospheric narrative personifies the dark with indelible character, its voice as creaky as the roof of the house, and as smooth and cold as the windows. Klassen renders the expansive, ramshackle house in mottled sepia tones, visible in the sharp beam of Laszlo's flashlight as it interrupts the flat, inky black. Even the dialogue respects the delineation, with Laszlo's words set in the swaths of light and the dark's written in the dark. But just as important are the things Klassen omits: rooms are empty of furniture and people. Laszlo feels alone. 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. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Snicket and Klassen? This'll be huge.--Barthelmess, Thom Copyright 2010 Booklist