The Dark: Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen made a scary picture book
In our son's bookshelf there is one shelf affectionately labeled "the daddy shelf." I take great pride in the daddy shelf. Not just any book can sneak its way in there. And Lemony Snicket's The Dark was the first book that earned its place on the shelf.
Jon Klassen illustrated The Dark, and The Snicket/Klassen combo is so good here it's unfair. Throughout my entire career as a dad, Jon Klassen has been my favorite illustrator by a long shot. The Dark is by no means the only book on the daddy shelf that Klassen has worked on. His project track record is so good, I've bought chapter books I've never heard of because a handful of his drawings are in them, and I've yet to be disappointed.
"The tension and the build-up and the eerie drawings are all just fantastic, you really must experience it."
Lemony Snicket is obviously a very talented wordsmith. His ability to play with words and sentences lends itself well to a spooky book that thrives on building tension. The kid in The Dark is named Laszlo. That's a pretty good start. What a great name. I can say with certainty that all Laszlos I meet for the rest of my life will make me think of The Dark. Laszlo is afraid of the dark, but he's actually a pretty brave kid. This bravery might actually be why I personally find the book to be so spooky. The dark talks to Laszlo in this book (I know, right?!) and he actually gets out of bed to go find where the voice is coming from. Being a passive bystander while crazy brave Laszlo follows this voice is not easy.
The tension and the build-up and the eerie drawings are all just fantastic, you really must experience it. To truly give this book what it deserves you must read it out loud and develop your very best creepy voice for the dark. When I read it to my kids, the dark whispers in a raspy voice. To help you imagine what this might be like, snippets of the dark's dialogue include "I want to show you something," "come closer," and "down here". And, just so you know, down here means the basement.
Below you can see the great trailer made by the publisher - Little, Brown - and get a good feel for the atmosphere of The Dark. Hopefully one day we can all be so lucky to have another Snicket/Klassen combo knock our socks off.
Have you read The Dark? Got any similar suggestions? Feel free to shout them out in the comments below.