While it might seem appropriate to blog about the recent announcement of the 2014 Caldecott Award winner, I’ve decided to take this Marvelous Monday to talk about a book I’ve just discovered that’s been written by one of my favorite authors when I was a young reader, Lemony Snicket, and illustrated by last year’s Caldecott Award Winner, Jon Klassen. The Dark is an entertaining and beautifully illustrated book about a little boy, Laszlo, who is afraid of the dark. At first, Laszlo is afraid of anywhere that the dark might exist. However, one night he finds himself in the dark when the night light in his room goes. Laszlo confronts this fear of the Dark as he’s lead by a voice to find the light bulb he needs to fix his night light.
I really enjoyed this reading this book because I think it’s a story that many young kids and even adults can identify with. Many of us have or still fear the dark; we might still jump the last couple of steps to our bed at night or make sure the closet door is fully closed before closing our eyes. While Lemony Snicket’s writing about the Dark can be a little ominous and suspense-producing, possibly expanding the reader’s fear of the dark, the final tone of the book is a reassuring one that I believe children will be very happy with. While I wasn’t so sure about how a Lemony Snicket children’s picture book would be like, I’m glad to see that he was able to keep his suspenseful style while still making it kid-friendly.
Now to the Marvelous part of this book (in my opinion)- the illustrations! I recently read Jon Klassen’s This Is Not My Hat and absolutely loved the illustrations! It’s a style of illustration that I’ve never encountered before and that drew me into the characters and the plot of the story instantaneously. His use of a black background This Is Not My Hat and, especially, The Dark plays up the words on each page and emphasize certain aspects of the plot that really draw the reader into the story. Klassen uses black backdrops to give the Dark a real presence in the pictures just as it is personified in Snicket’s writing. Some of my favorite pages are the ones with almost completely black backgrounds, such as the cover of the book, where there are only one or two pictures and the few words. In other pages Klassen uses the black to contour specific areas of the setting and thereby placing the reader in Laszlo’s shoes.
Overall I highly recommend this book for its marvelous illustrations! I also recommend that it be read in the daylight (: It’s perfect for a read-aloud story in a prekinder and early elementary age classroom and can be used to have kids open up about their own fears.
Here’s a link to a book trailer to get a sneak peak at some of the illustrations in the book!