The Dark



Clever story of a boy who conquers his fear of the dark.

What parents need to know

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

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. 

Not applicable

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

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
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. 

Families can talk 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

Author:Lemony Snicket
Illustrator:Jon Klassen
Genre:Picture Book
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Great boy role models
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:April 2, 2013
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):3 - 6
Read aloud:3 - 6
Read alone:5 - 6
Available on:Nook, Hardback, Kindle
Award:ALA Best and Notable Books

This review of The Dark was written by

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


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

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


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide