Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Dark - a book review

Quotes of the day:

* "Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them."

*"A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them. "

* All the secrets of the world are contained in books. Read at your own risk."

* Well-read people are less likely to be evil."

*If you are a student you should always get a good nights sleep unless you have come to the good part of your book, and then you should stay up all night and let your schoolwork fall by the wayside, a phrase which means 'flunk.'

*"Reading is one form of escape.   Running for your life is another."
                                   ~Lemony Snicket

Title:   The Dark
Author:  Lemony Snicket
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Ages:   4-7

Two amazing,  talented "greats" 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.

"You might be afraid of the dark, but the dark is not afraid of you.  That's why the dark is always close by."

"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."

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, "I want to show you something."  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.

"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. " 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.

About the Author:

  • Daniel Handler

  • Daniel Handler is an American author, screenwriter and accordionist. He is best known for his work under the pen name Lemony Snicket. Wikipedia

  • BornFebruary 28, 1970 (age 43), San Francisco, California, United States
    Full nameDaniel Handler
    AwardsQuill Award for Children's chapter book/middle gradeKids’ Choice Award for Favorite Book

  • About the illustrator:

  • Jon Klassen

  • Jon Klassen is a Canadian writer and illustrator of children's books and an animator. He won the 2013 Caldecott Medal for illustration, recognizing This Is Not My Hat, which he also wrote. Wikipedia

  • AwardsGovernor General's Award for English-language children's illustration

        Book Review Rating:   9  (Close to perfection!)

                             Read on and read always!

    Just for fun......

    An interview by Mark Medley from the National Post for your enjoyment with both author and illustrator: 17/04/13

    The Dark is about a little boy, Laszlo, who is afraid of the dark. What were you two scared of as children? What are you afraid of now?
    Lemony Snicket  As a child I was afraid of being kidnapped and of loud noises.  Nothing has changed except the ways those two things can be combined.
    Jon Klassen I was afraid of snakes, and if anything I’m more afraid of snakes now because I have had more time to see snakes.
    How did your own experiences with the dark shape or influence this book?
    LS  In my experience, the dark is very dark, so when working on The Dark I suggested to Mr. Klassen that he make the dark dark.
    JK  It was a good suggestion. There is nothing like working with a master to get suggestions like that.

    There’s this idea — propagated by this book — that we shouldn’t be afraid of the dark. But the dark is scary! Shouldn’t you be warning kids instead of lulling them into false sense of security?
    LS  Where you see “security” I see “fatalism,” but then for me it’s the same thing in airports.
    JK I think we just have to promise them that if they go down to the basement in the middle of the night, like in the book, it will answer all their questions.
    Why does the dark always live in basements? Maybe we should start building houses without them …
    LS  I imagine the dark often prefers basement living for the same reason people do: it’s cheaper.
    JK  Yeah, a lot of people don’t know this, but when the dark was first starting out, it blew a lot of its savings on one bedroom apartments in nicer buildings. But it learned. It learned.
    Images from The Dark, used by permission of HarperCollins Canada
    Images from The Dark, used by permission of HarperCollins Canada
    How did the two of you come to work together? Jon, you weren’t scared off by Lemony’s reputation?
    LS  It is indeed sad that Mr. Klassen has sounded the death knell of his own career, reputation and mental health.  On the other hand, he was already Canadian, so it’s not entirely my fault.
    ‘I imagine the dark often prefers basement living for the same reason people do: it’s cheaper’
    JK  I’d been in touch with Susan Rich, Daniel’s editor, and I sent her a picture I’d made of a boy standing at the top of the stairs with a flashlight shining down onto a dark doorway with text in the doorway telling the boy to come downstairs. She sent it to Daniel, I assume with some sort of blackmailing letter attached, and it was effective enough for him to write this book for me to illustrate. His reputation was scary, but I’m pretty scary too, you know. Kinda.
    Was this a collaboration or did you work independently of one another?
    LS  We would meet over a glass of chartreuse and then retreat to our respective corners.
    JK  I would get chocolate milk. I’m surprised the bar had it available, actually.
    Is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship? Or can you no longer stand the sight of each another?
    LS  As we prefer to meet in the shadows, our looks are irrelevant.
    JK  My looks are very relevant.
    The Dark by Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen is published by HarperCollins ($19.99).

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