Review Blog

Jul 05 2017

The darkest dark by Chris Hadfield

cover image

Ill. by Terry and Eric Fran. Macmillan, 2017. ISBN 9781509824090
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Space, Astronauts, Fear of the dark, Overcoming fear, Canada, Aspirations. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has put his considerable background experience in space to pen am exciting picture book based partly on his childhood. The boy Chris is an astronaut, building space ships from what ever he finds around the house, chasing aliens away, flying to Mars in his bath. His imagination is wild, but when it comes to going to bed his imagination grows even wilder, imagining all sorts of aliens and monsters in his bedroom. His parents try all sorts of techniques to overcome his fears, but to no avail; he still ends up in their bed at all times of the night. Astute readers will notice the calendar, July 1969, and be aware that on several days during this momentous month, two men landed on the moon. Chris and his family are invited next door to watch the moon landing on their neighbour's television. And watching this Chris sees the darkness of space, and resolves not to be afraid again, but to do everything in his power to become what he wants to be.
The superb illustrations done in pencil, then coloured digitally, are stunning, reflecting the Canadian hinterland with its pine cabins and forests, lakes and star filled skies. The images showing the space capsule, Apollo 11, are absorbing and will be pored over by younger readers.
For classes looking at space and the moon landing, rockets and science this book will be a wonderful introduction to that work, as well as being a platform for talking about fears and overcoming those fears.
Hadfield wrote this book with journalist and author, Kate Fillion, and the Fan brothers worked on the illustrations together. Readers will be encouraged reading the extra information Hadfield adds at the end, displaying photos of his youth and time as an astronaut and telling the readers how he made his dream come true.
Fran Knight

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