A friendly, benign-looking creature called the Dark takes the boy Orion on a fear-conquering adventure.
The mixed-media artwork is engaging and expressive. Orion is a comical-looking tyke with a large, round head under a striped, knitted cap. The Dark has a soft, rounded form. Its mottled-blue skin is bedecked with stars, and its features are two round, white dots above a simple, white smile. At two points, its kindly, huggable arm literally emerges from the page. Orion tells the tale, beginning by illustrating several of his fears. Children will identify strongly with some and giggle over others; they range from wasps to popping balloons to Grandma—pictured as a red-outlined old woman whose speech bubble says “ROAR.” The Dark shows Orion that such places as Under the Bed and In the Basement can be not only fear-free, but fun. Orion eventually allows a trip to “the awful place where the dark is darkest of all.” That turns out to be “the night sky,” pictured here and throughout as a starry, light-filled place, and hard to match with Orion’s declaration that it makes his “knees wobble” and his “tummy twist.” Detracting from the artwork and some great humor are production problems: Some text is almost indiscernible against dark backgrounds, and likewise, some of the art is too small to read some words.
A funny, savvy bedtime story that addresses common fears. (Picture book. 3-7)