Who wouldn’t be afraid of the dark, the mysterious thing that sometimes hides in the closet, sits behind the shower curtain and lives in the basement? Little Laszlo certainly is. Unorthodox children’s author Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events) and equally unconventional, Caldecott Award-winning illustrator Jon Klassen (This Is Not My Hat) team up to dispel Laszlo’s fears in a charmingly creepy picture book, simply titled The Dark.

Every morning Laszlo peeks at the dark in the basement and says hello, hoping that if he visits the dark’s room, maybe it won’t visit his. But one night the dark does visit his bedroom, luring him past the closet and the shower curtain and down the long stairs to the basement. Klassen’s gouache and digitally enhanced illustrations—with a retro design, muted golds from the evening light and an abundance of black—build the suspense and aptly depict Laszlo’s heightened fear.

After poetically explaining the need for closets (where would we keep our shoes, after all?) and shower curtains (we would splash water everywhere!) and even the dark itself (how would we know when we need a lightbulb?), the dark offers Laszlo just what he needs to feel secure again.

By avoiding the saccharine simplicity of many picture books on this topic, Snicket and Klassen reach children at their level, allowing them to explore their fear of the dark and overcome it on their own terms. Just imagine how this pair might handle a fear of hats!

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