The Dark ISBN: 9781408330036
Published by Orchard Books, 2014
Really for older children who retain some fear of the dark, this amazingly original and sophisticated picture book will appeal in many ways. It begins: 'Lazlo was afraid of the dark.' And we see the sun beginning to sink behind the window. Lazlo has some interesting ideas about the dark. It lurks in the cupboard and behind the shower curtain, but most of all, it lurks in the basement, particularly during the day. At night it comes out and is everywhere - everywhere except Lazlo's room, which has a bright, shining night light. He keeps a torch with him too, and each morning he likes to go to the basement door and say 'Hi' to the dark because if he does this, then perhaps the dark won't come see him in his room. However...one night all is dark in Lazlo's room, and the dark begins to talk to him. It tells him that it wants to show Lazlo something, so, quite obediently, Lazlo climbs out of bed with his torch and makes his way downstairs. It is the basement that the dark wants him to see, and while Lazlo has never been in the 'dark's room' at night, he again follows instructions, to be shown a collection of lightbulbs in a drawer, one of which he takes upstairs to put in the night light that has burned out: '...without the dark, everything would be light, and you would never know if you needed a lightbulb.' Because of his unique experience, Lazlo learns there is no need to be afraid of the dark, and so do we. The illustrations are remarkable, many of them with fully black pages where only the light from Lazlo's torch shows us what is going on. The house itself is a character in the story, and we see lots of floorboards and stairs and doors and windows, all of which are big and rather overwhelming. The idea of the dark being a friendly and helpful persona is a good one, and while I wouldn't use this story with a really young child who was afraid of the dark, it will make perfect sense to an older one who has begun to suspect that the dark may not be as scary as he's always thought. A really superb, serious book in both story and picture. Shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal.