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The Dark

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Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark is not afraid of Laszlo.

Laszlo lives in a house. The dark lives in the basement.

One night, the dark comes upstairs to Laszlo's room, and Laszlo goes down to the basement.

This is the story of how Laszlo stops being afraid of the dark.

32 pages, Hardcover

First published April 2, 2013

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About the author

Lemony Snicket

229 books24.3k followers
Lemony Snicket had an unusual education and a perplexing youth and now endures a despondent adulthood. His previous published works include the thirteen volumes in A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Composer is Dead, and 13 Words. His new series is All The Wrong Questions.

For A Series of Unfortunate Events:

For All The Wrong Questions:

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,648 reviews
Profile Image for Betsy.
Author 8 books2,836 followers
March 11, 2013
You do not know the temptation I am fighting right now to begin this review with some grandiose statement equating a fear of the dark with a fear of death itself. You have my full permission to slap me upside the head if I start off my children’s books reviews with something that bigheaded. The whole reason I was going to do it at all is that after reading a book like Lemony Snicket’s The Dark I find myself wondering about kids and their fears. Most childhood fears tap into the weird id (see, here I go) part of our brains where the unknown takes on greater and grander evils than could possibly occur in the real world. So we get fears of dogs, the color mauve, certain dead-eyed paintings, fruit, and water going down the drain (or so Mr. Rogers claimed, though I’ve never met a kid that went that route), etc. In the light of those others, a healthy fear of the dark makes perfect sense. The dark is where you cannot see and what you cannot see cannot possibly do you any good. That said, there are surprisingly few picture books out there that tackle this very specific fear. Picture books love to tackle a fear of monsters, but the idea of handling something as ephemeral as a fear of the dark is much much harder. It takes a certain kind of writer and a certain kind of illustrator to grasp this fear by the throat and throttle it good and sound. Behold the pairing of Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen. You’ll ne’er see the like again (unless they do another picture book together, in which case, scratch that).

“You might be afraid of the dark, but the dark is not afraid of you.” Laszlo is afraid but there’s not much he can do about it. Seems as though the dark is everywhere you look sometimes. Generally speaking it lives in the basement, and every morning Laszlo would open the door and say, “Hi . . . Hi, dark.” He wouldn’t get a reply. Then, one night, the dark does something unprecedented. It comes into Laszlo’s room and though he has a flashlight, it seems to be everywhere. It says it wants to show him something. Something in the basement. Something in the bottom drawer of an old dresser. Something that helps Laszlo just when he needs it. The dark still visits Laszlo now. It just doesn’t bother him.

There is nothing normal about Lemony Snicket. When he writes a picture book he doesn’t go about it the usual route. Past efforts have included The Composer Is Dead which effectively replaced ye olde stand-by Peter and the Wolf in terms of instrument instruction in many a fine school district. Then there was 13 Words which played out like a bit of experimental theater for the picture book set. I say that, but 16 copies of the book are currently checked out of my own library system. Besides, how can you not love a book that contains the following tags on its record: "cake, depression, friendship, haberdashery, happiness"? Take all that under consideration and The Dark is without a doubt the most normal picture book the man has attempted yet. It has, on paper anyway, a purpose: address children’s fear of the dark. In practice, it’s more complicated than that. More complicated and better.

Snicket does not address a fear of the absence of light by offering up the usual platitudes. He doesn't delve into the monsters or other beasties that may lurk in its corners. The dark, in Snicket's universe, acts almost as an attentive guardian. When we look up at the night sky, it is looking back at us. In Laszlo's own experience, the dark only seeks to help. We don't quite understand its motivations. The takeaway, rather, is that it is a benign force. Remove the threat and what you're left with is something that exists alongside you. Interestingly it almost works on a religious level. I would not be the least bit surprised if Sunday school classes started using it as a religious parable for death. Not its original purpose but on the horizon just the same.

It is also a pleasure to read this book aloud. Mr. Snicket’s words require a bit of rereading to fully appreciate them, but appreciate you will. First off, there’s the fact that our hero’s name is Laszlo. A cursory search of children’s books yields many a Laszlo author or illustrator but nary a Laszloian subject. So that’s nice. Then there’s the repetition you don’t necessarily notice at the time (terms like “creaky roof” “smooth, cold windows”) but that sink in with repeated readings. The voice of the dark is particularly interesting. Snicket writes it in such a way as to allow the reader the choice of purring the words, whispering them, putting a bit of creak into the vocal chords, or hissing them. The parent is granted the choice of making the dark threatening in its initial lures or comforting. Long story short, adults would do well to attempt a couple solo readings on their own before attempting with a kiddo. At least figure out what take you’re going for. It demands no less.

The most Snicketish verbal choice, unfortunately, turns out to be the book’s Achilles heel. You’re reading along, merry as you please, when you come to a page that creates a kind of verbal record scratch to the whole proceeding. Laszlo has approached the dark at last. He is nearing something that may turn out to be very scary. And then, just as he grows near, the next page FILLS . . . . with text. Text that is very nice and very well written and perhaps places childhood fears in context better than anything I’ve seen before. All that. By the same token it stops the reading cold. I imagine there must have been a couple editorial consultations about this page. Someone somewhere along the process of publication would have questioned its necessity. Perhaps there was a sterling defense of it that swayed all parties involved and in it remained. Or maybe everyone at Little, Brown loved it the first time they read it. Not quite sure. What I do know is that if you are reading this book to a large group, you will skip this page. And if you are reading one-on-one to your own sprog? Depends on the sprog, of course. Thoughtful sprogs will be able to take it. They may be few and far between, however. The last thing you want when you are watching a horror film and the hero is reaching for the doorknob of the basement is to have the moment interrupted by a five-minute talk on the roots of fear. It might contain a brilliant thesis. You just don’t want to hear it at this particular moment in time.

Canadians have a special relationship to the dark that Americans can’t quite appreciate. I was first alerted to this fact when I read Caroline Woodward’s Singing Away the Dark. That book was about a little girl’s mile long trek through the dark to the stop for her school bus. The book was illustrated by Julie Morstad, whose work reminds me, not a little, of Klassen’s. They share a similar deadpan serenity. If Morstad was an American citizen you can bet she’d get as much attention as Mr. Klassen has acquired in the last few years. In this particular outing, Mr. Klassen works almost in the negative. Much of this book has to be black. Pure black. The kind that has a palpable weight to it. Laszlo and his house fill in the spaces where the dark has yet to penetrate. It was with great pleasure that I watched what the man did with light as well. The colors of a home when lit by a flashlight are different from the colors seen in the slow setting of the evening sun. A toy car that Laszlo abandons in his efforts to escape the dark appears as a dark umber at first, then later pure black in the flashlight’s glow. We only see the early morning light once, and in that case Klassen makes it a lovely cool blue. These are subtle details, but they’re enough to convince the reader that they’re viewing accurate portrayals of each time of day.

The dark is not visually anthropomorphized. It is verbally, of course, with references to it hiding, sitting, or even gazing. One has to sit and shudder for a while when you imagine what this book might have been like with an author that turned the dark into a black blob with facial expressions. It’s not exaggerating to say that such a move would defeat the very purpose of the book itself. The whole reason the book works on a visual level is because Klassen adheres strictly and entirely to the real world. An enterprising soul could take this book, replicate it scene by scene in a live action YouTube video, and not have to dip into the film budget for a single solitary special effect. This is enormously important to children who may actually be afraid of the dark. This book gives a face to a fear that is both nameable and not nameable without giving a literal face to a specific fear. It’s accessible because it is realistic.

When dealing with picture books that seek to exorcise fears, one has to be very careful that you don’t instill a fear where there wasn’t one before. So a child that might never have considered the fact that nighttime can be a scary time might enter into a whole new kind of knowledge with the simple application of this book. That said, those sorts of things are very much on a case-by-case basis. Certainly The Dark will be a boon to some and simply a well-wrought story for others. Pairing Klassen with Snicket feels good when you say it aloud. No surprise then that the result of such a pairing isn’t just good. It’s great. A powerhouse of a comfort book.

For ages 4-8.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
February 28, 2020
Loved this. Elegant, surprising, clever, witty. Loved the simple story, loved the art. Kids like sillier ones. This one deals cleverly with fear of the dark; kids would rather read about clowns. But I loved this one.
Profile Image for Laura.
1,405 reviews209 followers
April 19, 2013

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

Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen were put on this Earth to make books together. Two authors with styles and skills that complement each other in an “oh-my-oh-my” the world is a wonderful place after all kind of way. Pure magic! A collaboration that captures Laszlo’s late night chat with the dark perfectly.

Our tale comes to life with natural, stark, stripped down to the heart of the matter pages filled with darkness and light. Young Laszlo is afraid of the dark, but an unexpected voice helps him see that you can’t have light without dark. Can’t have one without the other.

The color black lives and breathes in the pages of this book. An intense, deep color that pulls readers in with mystery and power. I have never seen or felt blacker pages. Black cat black. Witch’s cauldron black. The lights just went out type black. Quick! Close your eyes! THAT is captured here on the page! But so was the light. Turn the page and a stunning, natural glow of color warms the story with daylight. I could feel the warmth of the wood floor and sun shining in. Truly a dazzling book to flip through for the color and art alone.

Then the words take shape and sink in. At first, the idea of the Dark having a voice gave me creepy chills down my spine. But in a sly, quirky, matter of fact, Snickety way-- Laszlo’s fears (and mine) turned to ease, courage, and wisdom.

I love this book. A true classic that has found a warm, bright, well-lit spot on my favorites shelf. :)
Profile Image for AleJandra.
832 reviews416 followers
October 26, 2016
Mi calificación: 5 ESTRELLAS
Calificación de mi hija: 3 ESTRELLAS
"Without a closet, you would have nowhere to put your shoes, and without a shower curtain, you would splash water all over the bathroom, and without the dark, everything would be light, and you never know if you needed a lightbulb."


La mayoría de libros infantiles que tocan el tema del miedo, lo hacen de la misma forma; con imágenes coloridas, historias divertidas y que tienen como mensaje, enseñarnos que debemos ser valientes y afrontar lo que nos causa temor.

No digo que ese mensaje este mal, porque no lo es, pero creo que no es suficiente.

Y es aquí donde entra este libro.

Las imágenes son oscuras, un poco simplistas y creepys.
La historia es sencilla, un niño (que por cierto me encanto el nombre del protagonista) Laszlo le tiene miedo a la oscuridad, y la historia nos presenta a la oscuridad como un personaje mas, una entidad que vive en la casa con Laszlo.

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

La moraleja de la historia es hacernos ver que el miedo no solo es inevitable, si no NECESARIO. No debemos de enfrascarnos en superarlo, si no en entenderlo.

Muy recomendable y agradezco infinitamente que se lo hayan regalado a mi nena en su cumpleaños.

Mi hija dijo que solo le ponía 3 Estrellas, porque la historia la asusta un poco, aun así de todos los libros que le regalaron este es al que mas apego le tiene.
Profile Image for Calista.
4,078 reviews31.3k followers
April 24, 2018
Reading to my niece and nephew a lot has really given me a new appreciation for Children's books. They can be great stories in their own right. They are filled with art and wisdom and usually with heart. You can read them in 10 minutes or so. They are perfect for a busy life in many ways. Some are too simple and some are fit for all ages. I think I'm addicted to children's books and this little book is one of those reasons.

This book is fantastic. The art blended with the story is out of this world. I love how the dark feels alive and like it could jump out and get you. At the beginning, it even feels menacing until you get to know the dark. Once you get to know it, it is only part of life. I love and adore this book.

The kids enjoyed this book too. The art sucks you in and the story pins you down. The kids hardly moved. It was spellbinding.

JessetheReader recommended this on his channel and I'm so glad I tried it out. So glad. I want to read this over and over. I was delighted by this story. I put Lemony Snicket on my author list simply because of this book.
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews176k followers
January 27, 2014
My sister gave this to me for christmas and I'm so glad she did, because I loved it! A simple but powerful story about overcoming your fears. I think that I will always love and appreciate Lemony Snicket's work and I'm happy that I got the chance to read this little book.
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.1k followers
August 27, 2014
Lemony Snicket, guys. He gets me. He really gets me. This book was incredibly straightforward and prefect. Even though every page only has a few words, Snicket told me a complete story and made me feel for the main character and made me understand what he overcame. Beautiful.

And Jon Klassen's art! It worked perfectly with this story. The main character is the cutest thing ever, and the use of black space was outstanding. Glorious.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,748 reviews5,288 followers
September 9, 2019
I figured this would be cute, but I didn't expect to love it so much? First of all, this is such a perfect read-aloud title! The Dark's voice is described right off the bat as being creaky and cold, so I tried it out on my three-year-old to make sure it wasn't too creepy, but he just got the giggles. I was super afraid of the dark as a kid and would've loved this book then, too. As someone who grew up on Snicket's sense of humor, I was happy to see it woven through this story, even if it was pretty subtle, and I enjoyed the illustrations a lot.
Profile Image for I.Shayan.
202 reviews
May 24, 2020
خیلی دوست داشتنی و جالب بود
یک کتاب مرتبط با ترس از تاریکی بدون اینکه سعی کنه با راه های لوس و بچگونه مخاطبو آزار بده داستانشو به جذابی روایت میکنه
Profile Image for Melki.
6,048 reviews2,391 followers
February 27, 2014

Well...maybe not cookies, but The Dark DOES have something young Laszlo needs...if only he can conquer his fear and venture to that SCARY BASEMENT where The Dark lives.

Graphically, this book is perfect. The story is cute, but it did leave me wondering
Profile Image for Shannon.
3,097 reviews2,382 followers
May 28, 2013
I didn't like this : (

And I realize I'm not the intended audience for this book, but I've read picture books as an adult that have made me laugh and even cry, this just wasn't one that touched me in any way.

I wasn't afraid of the dark when I was a kid; my room was in the basement. The illustrations weren't anything special, there wasn't much story beyond "there's no reason to be afraid of the dark," and the writing wasn't particularly clever.

One thing though, if you have a kid struggling with being afraid of the dark, this might be a great book to check out to try to explain that there's nothing to be afraid of. I don't know if it'll work, but hey, it's worth a try!

I think this is just one of those instances where this wasn't meant for me, but others might enjoy it.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
921 reviews979 followers
January 3, 2021
Have read this about 30 times with my nearly-3-year-old son and we both love it. Just the right side of scary, full of sentences almost poetic in their beauty, and wonderful illustrations.

Profile Image for Phu.
681 reviews
June 30, 2023
Một cuốn picturebook đơn giản, kể về cuộc sống của một cậu bé và Bóng tối (the dark).
Đó là những cái bóng xuất hiện sau ánh mặt trời, dù ngày hay đêm bóng tối luôn xuất hiện trong cuộc sống của cậu bé.

Điều mà khiến mình ngạc nhiên ở cuốn sách này nằm ở phần cuối, chúng ta hiểu được rằng từ thuở sơ khai bóng tối là một nỗi sợ nguyên thủy, và xuyên suốt từng trang mình đã bất an và lo lắng cho cậu bé khi cậu bé đối mặt với từng lời nói của Bóng tối.

You might be afraid of the dark, but the dark is not afraid of you. That's why the dark is always close by. The dark peeks around the corner and waits behind the door, and you can see the dark up in the sky almost every night, gazing down at you as you gaze up at the stars. Without a creaky roof, the rain would fall on your bed, and without a smooth, cold window, you could never see outside, and without a set of stairs, you could never go into the basement, where the dark spends its time. Without a closet, you would have nowhere to put your shoes, and without a shower curtain, you would splash water all over the bathroom, and without the dark, everything would be light, and you would never know if you needed a lightbulb.

Nhưng ở phần kết nó thật sự nhẹ nhàng luôn í, điều gì cũng có hai mặt tốt và xấu, chúng ta hiểu được bóng tối không an toàn nhưng bóng tối cũng dạy cho ta những lợi ích của những điều khác trong cuộc sống.

Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 28 books5,683 followers
April 28, 2018
A strange and just slightly creepy story, with an ending that will relieve small children and make them see the dark as surprisingly friendly. What really elevates the story, though, is the pictures. I mean, of course they do, it's Jon Klassen! The illustrations are beautiful! My kids love this book, and it's a great read aloud.
Profile Image for Teresa.
Author 8 books818 followers
May 7, 2013
The drawings are beautiful and I even felt creeped out by them, when it was appropriate to, as the boy makes his way through the dark house. (Don't worry about him: he has a flashlight.) The text is great and because I am a words-person and not a visual one, the last sentence at the bottom of the only page that is all words had me smiling and paging back to spot something very important that I'd missed, of course, in one of the illustrations. Then my smile got even bigger as I saw the smile of ... but that would be giving too much away.
Profile Image for Abdollah zarei.
175 reviews58 followers
May 24, 2018
یه کودکانه ی عالی. ترس کودکی همه‌ی آدما. تاریکی. هر جایی که نگاه میکردی بود. زیرزمین.راه‌پله.‍ ته حیاط. لابلای درختا و برای من انتهای تاریک کوچه که حتی نگاه کردن بهش برام شدیدا ترسناک بود تا جایی‌که چشمامو می‌بستم تا ته کوچه تاریکو نبینم.
کتاب حس کودکانه بی نظیری داشت و یاد آور ترس بچگی‌ها.... تاریکی
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,454 reviews475 followers
October 13, 2019
Perfect pairing of author and illustrator, where each really enlarges the work of the other. Perfect.

The audio book is also fabulous, for those with really young kids who might enjoy hearing it read repeatedly.

Library copy.
Profile Image for Chelsea | thrillerbookbabe.
529 reviews699 followers
August 26, 2021
I don’t know about you guys, but one of my favorite series growing up was A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. When I saw he had this children’s book out I was beyond excited. I’m so thankful that Little Brown for Young Readers was able to send me a copy! The book is about Laszlo, who is afraid of the dark. The dark lives in Laszlo’s basement and is not afraid of him. This is a story about how Laszlo overcomes his fear.

Thoughts: I loved how this story addresses overcoming your fears. It was cute and well written and fun to read. I enjoyed the illustrations and the contrast of the black on the pages. The artwork really draws you in and captivates the reader, child or adult. I like that the story was straightforward and carried Snicket’s humorous voice. 5-stars!
Profile Image for Ronyell.
956 reviews321 followers
January 1, 2015

Now, I will admit that I have not read any of Lemony Snicket’s works before (not even his famous “A Series of Unfortunate Events” series), so consider Lemony Snicket’s children’s book “The Dark,” along with illustrations by Jon Klassen to be my first book that I had read from Lemony Snicket and I must say that I really enjoyed this book!

In this book, a young boy named Laszlo was afraid of the dark, even though the dark was not afraid of him. One night, Laszlo’s night light goes out and the dark suddenly sneaks into his room and asks him to come downstairs to the basement so it could show Laszlo something.

What will the Dark show Laszlo and is it a good thing or a bad thing?

Read this book to find out!

Now, as I have mentioned before, I had never read a book by Lemony Snicket, even though I have heard of his famous “A Series of Unfortunate Events” books and I assumed that when I saw the title of this children’s book “The Dark,” I thought that this was going to be a horror filled tale that involved a young boy confronting the Dark. However, while this book can be pretty scary for small children who are afraid of the dark, this book is actually quite cute once I got through it! I loved the way that Lemony Snicket made the Dark into some kind of living personification of Laszlo’s fears as it entices Laszlo to come down the basement to get something, even though Laszlo has never been down to the basement when it gets dark. This makes the Dark a pretty frightening presence in the story as we do not know what it wants to show Laszlo or if its intentions are good or bad and it really makes the dark stand out as a huge force in this book. Jon Klassen’s artwork is both cute and frightening as Laszlo is drawn as a cute little boy who is usually shown in blue pajamas, but most of the pictures are pitch black, especially when the dark comes to visit Laszlo in his bedroom.

Overall, “The Dark” is a cute and inspiring book by Lemony Snicket that will help small children cope with the dark! I would recommend this book to children ages four and up since the images of the dark filling up the pages might scare some small children.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

Profile Image for Nicola.
229 reviews22 followers
July 13, 2015
This is a book that I picked up on a whim whilst browsing the graphic novel shelves in the library. I'm a huge fan of Lemony Snicket so I knew straight away that I had to read it.

It's for children, so I'm not the intended audience, but it was very cute. I didn't have an emotional connection with it but that probably would have been different if I had a fear of the dark when I was young. I would say that this is a great choice of book if you have a child who is afraid of the dark as it might help show them that there's nothing to be scared of. For me, it was a nice way to spend a few minutes.

"You might be afraid of the dark, but the dark is not afraid of you. That’s why the dark is always close by."
Profile Image for Alejandra.
84 reviews6 followers
December 13, 2016
"Quizá le tengas miedo a la oscuridad, pero la oscuridad no te tiene miedo. Es por eso que ella siempre está cerca."
Profile Image for Simona Stoica.
Author 16 books731 followers
July 6, 2018
Când nu îi torturează pe Klaus, Sunny și Violet, Lemony Snicket ne lasă în întuneric. Superbe ilustrații și o poveste cu tâlc.
Profile Image for Seen is fighting capitalism.
450 reviews191 followers
July 22, 2023

قصة عن مواجهة المخاوف والتغلب عليها.. الرسومات ظريفة للغاية والعبرة جيدة. ماتعة ومفيدة للطفل والبالغ على حد سواء، وقد يجد البالغ فيها عبرةً أكثر عمقًا وقوة.
Profile Image for Hannah Garden.
996 reviews169 followers
May 7, 2013
Dear Mr. Snicket,

Please hire me to live in your work studio and sit in the corner, listening to you read your clever creepy creaky comforting stories to the brilliant artists you work with. I promise to laugh at all the funny parts, pay loads of attention to your pets, and clean up the crumbs from my jam biscuits.

Yours truly,

Professor Hannah K. Messler
The De-Ontology Department


Here is something I always wish: You know how at the museum, next to the art, there are little cards that say "charcoal and watercolor," or "India ink and collage," or whatever? I always wish the copyright page would mention the artist's materials in picture books.

Dear Overlords of Amazon,

Maybe you can mention that to the government or whoever. It's a pretty good idea.

Dr. Hannah K. Messler, DDS
Profile Image for Nick Swarbrick.
319 reviews32 followers
April 11, 2017
A very clever book at all sorts of levels. The absence of adults - to the point where the child protagonist is in charge of the house, it seems - and the personification of the dark give this a real edge. The design is stunning - simple pictures with minimal text until one climactic page - and really is part of the storytelling. The characterisation of Laszlo whose face begs so many questions - is it blank, or absorbed or panicky? - is identifiable, and the text is both sparing in detail and effective when it gives some, drawing on the rhythm of simple picture books and the self-referential voice of Lemony Snicket.
Profile Image for K..
1,004 reviews70 followers
February 6, 2017
... without the dark, everything would be light, and you would never know if you needed a lightbulb.
Wise words.

I adore Klassen's art. My reviews of his projects are just repetitious little ditties of love. There's just something about it that makes me so happy, like a bright little star inside my chest. Even when he is illustrating an anthropomorphic version of darkness (or maybe especially when he's doing that, who knows? Not this lady).
Profile Image for ღ Carol jinx~☆~☔ʚϊɞ.
249 reviews1 follower
August 21, 2014
Dear Mr. Lemony Snicket,
I am 3 years old and my Grandma just read your book to me.
I loved the dark. I loved the stars. I loved the moon.
I wasn't scared of the dark. Looking at the pictures and
hearing the words; well now I am afraid of the dark.
So long and Thanks for all the nightmares....Finn
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,648 reviews

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