The Dark

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
The Dark Book Poster Image
Clever story of a boy who conquers his fear of the dark.

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain, not educate, but The Dark does show how flashlights and night lights provide light in the darkness. It also explains, in a humorous way, what roofs, windows, closets and shower curtains are for.

Positive Messages

Face your fears -- maybe there's a simple, practical way to deal with them. And maybe things aren't as scary as they seem; maybe even scary things, like a creaky roof, a cold window, or a dark closet have a positive purpose. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lazlo is curious, brave, and parctical. He takes matters -- and a flashlight -- into his own hands and faces his greatest fear: the dark. The dark is positive, too: It directs Lazlo to the place where the night light lightbulbs are kept so he won't have to fear the dark will come in his room, and he can sleep easy. 

Violence & Scariness

There's some suspense, but nothing really scary as Lazlo goes around his house in the dark with his flashlight. 


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Dark is a fun picture book about a universal childhood fear: fear of the dark. What's unusual here is that author Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events) and Caldecott-winning author-illustrator Jon Klassen (This Is Not My Hat) have personified the dark. It lives in Lazlo's basement, and he talks to it and it talks back. Lazlo just wants it to stay where it belongs and not come into his room. The two eventually come to terms -- the dark is actully quite friendly and helpful -- and it never bothers Lazlo again. The Dark is not only highly entertaining, with its wonderfully understated tone and dramatic use of light and dark in the illustrations, but it also should provide a great way for kids and parents to open up about their own fears. It's very empowering to see Lazlo conquer one of his.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJason A. April 19, 2018

A clever and playful story for children and parents to bond over

This book is an engaging book about a topic (the dark) that can frighten most kids. It's clever and inventive and allows older toddlers and adults to discu... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

Lazlo is a afraid of the dark. He sleeps with a night light on and caries a flashlight places where the dark is, like his basement. He personifies the dark, thinking it hides in the closet or behind the shower curtain or washing machine, but goes back to the basement, where it lives, in the morning. He'll open the basement door and greet it: \"'Hi, he would say. 'Hi, dark.'\" Then one night the dark talks back to Lazlo and shows him something that relieves his fear.

Is it any good?

THE DARK is a clever treatment of one of kids' most universal fears. Author Lemony Snicket and illustrator Jon Klassen do a fantastic job of building suspense and creating a deadpan character with a problem to solve: Lazlo knows that the dark lives in his house and is concerned that it will come into it bedroom rather than stay where it belongs. Lazlo is curious and methodical, and in the end empowered by having mastered the situation. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their fears. Parents can tell kids what they are -- or used to be -- afraid of and how they deal -- or have dealt with -- that fear. 

  • How does the illustrator's use of light and dark affect the mood on different pages? 

  • Take a flashlight and go on a journey in your house. Does it make you less scared of dark corners? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and humor

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate