Chris Hadfield (text), The Fan Brothers (illus.), The Darkest Dark, Macmillan Children’s Books Australia, 30 May 2017, 48pp., $14.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781509824090
Chris loves rockets and planets and pretending that he is an astronaut in space. But Chris is afraid of the dark. His parents have finally had enough of Chris sleeping in their bed and declare it is time he stayed in his own bed. Chris is scared – he sees the ‘worst sort of aliens’ in the shadows. But when he watches the first moon landing with ‘Real, live astronauts. On the actual, far-away Moon,’ he is captivated and realises the darkness is more mysterious than scary. Chris is inspired to follow his dreams and explore the mysteries of the night sky.
Written by, and based on the life of, astronaut Chris Hadfield, The Darkest Dark combines elements of imagination, real-childhood fears, and the wonders of the universe to create a moving and inspiring story. The text is beautifully written, conveying the story with clarity and warmth. Likewise, the The Fan Brothers’ illustrations are exceptional. I have previously reviewed The Night Gardener, also illustrated by The Fan Brothers, and I can’t speak highly enough of their ability to convey story, emotion and relationships so sensitively and beautifully through pictures. The use of pen and ink, watercolour and graphite, with well thought-out use of colour and tonal changes is incredible.
The Darkest Dark is a pleasure to read and my 4-year-old has returned to it again and again. It holds a clear and poignant message for children and adults about following your dreams, and tackles the common childhood issue of fear of the dark. I highly recommend this book for children 2-6 years of age.
Reviewed by Rebecca Blakeney