Hello, Dark by Wai Mei Wong, illustrated by Tamara Campeau. Pajama Press, 2021. 9781772782219
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Picture books
What did you like about the book? A little boy confronts his fear of the dark directly, by having a frank but friendly conversation with it. We see him in his bed, under a comforter printed with trucks and surrounded by familiar playthings, everything in the room tinged with dark purples, greens, and blues. The unnamed narrator is done with being afraid and thinks about the good things darkness does: shielding the sun so we can sleep, providing shadows for nocturnal animals. Maybe the dark is lonely and needs a playmate! Now the dark begins to appear as a plump, baby-monster shadow, ready to join the fun. The little boy works with the dark to count sheep, practice breathing, and listen to music, which all lead to the happy result of sleep. The little boy is cute and has dark hair and Asian features; his room is cozy and comfortable. The very familiarity of both the child and the setting will make it easy for young listeners to identify with the narrator. Campeau mixes up the framing of her vibrant digital artwork so that we look at the narrator and the room from a variety of angles, which heightens the book’s visual impact.
Anything you didn’t like about it? One scene shows the boy outside the room, laying in the grass as he looks up at the moon. I guess he’s meant to be imagining this scene, but I found the break in continuity jarring.
To whom would you recommend this book? A good choice for families struggling with bedtime fears in children ages 3-6. The use of a BIPOC child as a narrator will be of interest to those trying to diversify their bibliotherapy collections. The very literal illustrations and suggested solutions may work as good talking points for weary adults.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Probably a parenting section although it could also go in with picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: September 12, 2021