Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Dark

Snicket, Lemony (Author)
Klassen, Jon (Illustrator)
HarperCollins 2013. 40 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9781443417945 (hardcover)
9781443417969 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, dialogue, setting

Awards

Governor General’s Literary Award – Finalist – 2013
Charlotte Zolotow Award – 2014
Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award – 2014

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Bravery in the face of fear is the message so viscerally brought to young readers in this dramatic and poetic book. When a child’s nightlight burns out, the dark speaks to him. Slowly, inexorably, little Laszlo is urged down to the basement.

Atmospheric language sets the mood: “The dark lived in the same house as Laszlo, a big place with a creaky roof, smooth, cold windows, and several sets of stairs.”

In daytime the dark is manageable, hiding in a closet or behind the shower curtain. Mostly it stays in the basement. The story builds suspense with quiet mastery: “At night, of course, the dark went out and spread itself against the windows and doors of Laszlo’s house.”

Sombre illustrations in strong, straight lines and subtle layers of colour wash increase the tension. The sole figure of Laszlo negotiates a house bereft of any sign of family, pets and the soft, comforting furnishings we associate with home. With the exception of his tiny bed, Laszlo’s house is all bare floorboards and long shadows.

Brave Laszlo transforms his relationship with the dark, and the dark directs him to a new bulb for his nightlight. As the book says: “Without a creaky roof, the rain would fall on your bed, and without a smooth cold window, you could never see outside.”

  •  

    Discuss being afraid of the dark. What do/did you do to overcome your fears?

  •  

    Write advice to someone who is afraid of the dark. Offer suggestions regarding how they might overcome their fears.

  •  

    Make a list of what we need the dark for (star-gazing, developing film, sleeping, glow-in-the-dark pictures, observing nocturnal animals, etc.).

  •  In alternating parts (Reader’s Theatre style), read the story with a partner. Use lots of expression in your voice.
  •  Predict what the story will be about based on the cover and title.
  •  

    List the places where the dark is found in the story.

  •  Discuss: Were you afraid of the dark when you were younger? What helped you control your fears? How can you overcome them?
  •  

    Write a list of suggestions to help a younger child stop being afraid of the dark. What is your best advice?

  •  

    In alternating parts (Reader’s Theatre style), read the story with a partner. Use lots of expression in your voice.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To solve problems
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Drama
  • Science and Technology