The Darkness Upstairs


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See 2 questions about The Dark…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Dark. Apr 28, Raeleen Lemay rated it really liked it. I'm obsessed with Jon Klassen's illustrations!

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And this story was cute and very ominous in other words, very Lemony Snicket. It was great! Mar 10, Betsy rated it really liked it. 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. Most childhood fears tap into the weird id see, 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.

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.

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So we get fears of dogs, the color mauve, certain dead-eyed paintings, fruit, and water going down the drain or so Mr. 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. Seems as though the dark is everywhere you look sometimes.

Hi, dark. Then, one night, the dark does something unprecedented. 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. There is nothing normal about Lemony Snicket. 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.

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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. 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.

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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. 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. It demands no less. Laszlo has approached the dark at last. He is nearing something that may turn out to be very scary. 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.

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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.


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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.

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They share a similar deadpan serenity. Klassen has acquired in the last few years. In this particular outing, Mr. Klassen works almost in the negative.

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