Having written 13 books about a family of orphans living in fear, Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events) pens a triumphant picture book in which a boy conquers his fear of the dark. Jon Klassen (This Is Not My Hat) makes us believe the dark is alive, and Snicket gives voice to it.
"Laszlo was afraid of the dark," the book begins. Klassen exploits the interplay between light and dark, as the hero looks nervously at the window, where the sun sets in the rosy rectangle of a window frame. The boy and the dark are the sole characters in the book. The light plays off the staircase in rectangular blocks as the darkness increases its dominance. Snicket's sparest statements cause the scariest effects: "Sometimes the dark hid in the closet. Sometimes it sat behind the shower curtain." Laszlo stands atop the basement stairs and says, "Hi, dark...." Maybe if Laszlo visits the dark, then the dark won't visit him. But, of course, the dark does.
Snicket and Klassen build to a well-earned victory for Laszlo, synchronized exquisitely between text and artwork. By the end, Laszlo ventures as far down as the second landing on the basement stairs; he will be just fine. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's reviews editor, Shelf Awareness