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BOOK REVIEW: The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield, illustrated by The Fan Brothers

BOOK REVIEW: The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield, illustrated by The Fan Brothers

Macmillan
May 2017
Paperback, $14.99

Picture Book

7.5/10

Young Chris is an astronaut. A very busy astronaut. Saving the planet from aliens is much more important than taking baths or going to bed. Because at bedtime the worst sort of alien appears – darkness. But when Chris watches the first moon landing on TV, he discovers that there is a dark out in Space that is much darker than he’s used to. It’s the darkest dark ever, and he realises that the unknown can be . . . exciting!

The Darkest Dark is the debut picture book by Commander Chris Hadfield, international bestselling author of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth and You Are Here, with spectacular illustrations by illustration team The Fan Brothers. Inspired by Chris’s decision to become an astronaut after watching the Apollo 11 moon landing at age nine, The Darkest Dark is an inspiring story about facing your fears and following your dreams.

 

The Darkest Dark is a sweet and interesting story, gorgeously illustrated, and sure to help kids who have a fear of the dark. 

Young Chris and his dog, Albert, go on all kinds of adventures; chasing aliens, flying to Mars, navigating the universe, but Chris dreads lights out. He fears the things that wait in the dark for him, the “alien” shadows.

“You’re a big boy now,” said Chris’s father. “You have to sleep in your own bed.”
And Chris tried, he really did, but his room was dark. Very, very dark.
The kind of dark that attracts the worst sort of aliens.
But his parents meant it.
Chris. Was. Going. To. Sleep. In. His. Own. Bed. Tonight.

And despite his parents’ best efforts, he struggles to sleep in his own bed at night, even with a nightlight to keep the alien shadows at bay.

They tucked Chris in.
They turned on the night light.
They even gave him a special bell to ring if he was nervous.

Clang.

Clang! Clang!

CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!

They took away the bell.

But eventually, when his chance to watch the moon landing is on the line, he manages to lie in bed quietly until he falls asleep.

The grown-ups huddled around the TV were amazed. Their whole lives long, they’d never expected to see this sight. Even Chris (who had been to the Moon just the night before) was amazed. He’d never really noticed how dark it was there.
Outer space was the darkest dark ever.

Two thirds of this book are about Chris’s fears and struggles with the dark, but it’s the final third that really hammers the message home.

He’d seen that the darkness of the universe was so much bigger and deeper than the darkness in his room, but he was not afraid. He wanted to explore every corner of the night sky.
For the first time, Chris could see the power and mystery and velvety black beauty of the dark.

Yes, there are unknown things out there, but that doesn’t mean they should be feared, because adventure is all about discovering the unknown.

 

Perhaps the story is a little simplistic with an easy “solution”, but for those kids who love to look into space, and those of us who grew up doing the same, this is a sweet little story grounded in real events that are so important in the journey of humans into space and their exploration of what’s out there.

The Darkest Dark offers a look at the darkness from a different perspective. So, rather than telling kids  that there is nothing there, it looks at all the possibilities in adventure and all the things we might find when venturing past the known.

BOOK REVIEW: The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield, illustrated by The Fan Brothers

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