written by Wai Mei Wong
illustrated by Tamara Campeau
Pajama Press, 2021
978-1-77278-221-9 (hc) $21.95
for Preschool to Grade 1
Picture Book | Bedtime | Overcoming Nighttime Anxiety | Befriending The Dark
“Hello, Dark. People tell me you can’t hear me, but I know you do… I’m tired of being afraid of you. Tonight, can we talk?”
In an effort to overcome his fear of bedtime, a young boy decides to have a conversation with the dark. At first he confesses that creaks, wind and shadows alarm him. “You keep me wide awake and worrying: what will you do once I’m asleep?” He then admits that Dark has its strengths. It covers the sun so that the world can sleep. Particular creatures prefer being concealed by it. The moon and stars shimmer more brightly because of its presence. The boy comes to a realization: “I guess you’re not so bad after all. Maybe you don’t want to be scary. Maybe you’re just lonely.” Happily, Dark and the boy befriend each other through the playing of imaginary games, the discussion of cheerful things, mindful breathing, and listening to music until they both fall asleep.
In this, her debut picture book, Wai Mei Wong has written a compelling story which encourages children to gain control of their anxieties. By articulating concerns and re-imagining a negative situation into a positive one, this book celebrates the inner strength of children in overcoming their fear of the dark. A helpful note to caregivers offers support and strategies.
Tamara Campeau’s vibrant digital illustrations subtly portray the child’s transformation from apprehensive to accepting as Dark grows into a more congenial character. Of visual interest is the child’s bedroom, a comforting milieu filled with toys and a library shelf featuring picture books, two of which have been illustrated by Campeau.
Senta Ross is a former elementary teacher and teacher-librarian in Kitchener, Ontario.
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