Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Who's Afraid of the Dark? The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield and Kate Fillion

Chris was an astronaut.

An important and very busy astronaut.

Like most kids in the 1960s, Chris Hadfield was fascinated with astronauts soaring into the edge of space, and his days were busy playing with homemade rockets on imagined missions to unknown planets and pretend battles with fearsome aliens.

But there was one thing Chris feared more than aliens--

THE DARK. He hated going to bed in the dark.

"Astronauts' work is never done," he argued, "so astronauts do not like to sleep."

But Chris's parents liked to sleep at night. They tried all the usual tricks parents use to get kids to sleep in their own beds. To make him comfortable with the night, they checked for dangers under the bed and in the closet, and declared his room extra-terrestrial free. They turned on his special night light. They even gave him a handbell to ring if he got too scared.

Unfortunately, their tactics didn't work, but the bell DID!


The imaginary aliens that seemed like so much fun to fight in the daylight reappeared as sinister, monstrous shapes peering in his window and climbing all over his bed in the dark of night. Chris's parents were worn out with the nightly struggle and finally came up with a desperate offer: Chris could only watch the event of the century--the upcoming Apollo 11 moon landing on television-- IF he would stay in his own bed. It worked!

And what Chris saw on that July night on the television screen was a revelation. There was no dark like the darkest dark of space. Night time on earth suddenly seemed not so dark at all. And the rest, as we say, is history, in Chris Hadfield's and Kate Fillion's The Darkest Dark (Little, Brown, 2016), as Canadian astronaut Hadfield recounts how watching that historic mission gave him the courage to face the dark and to go on to become a real astronaut, one who ultimately served on three missions to the International Space Station, one for five months in the darkest dark of space.

Youngsters with night terrors may take solace from the author's all-too-true childhood experience, a story which assures them that "this, too, will pass," and that they, too, will grow up to face their fears in the future. Illustrations by the Fan Brothers are filled with both some scary visions of things that go bump in the night as well as the beauty of earth's nighttime and the attraction of the velvety loveliness of dark of space. This one is a good story for kids who dread the dark and will appeal to young astro-nuts who can easily see themselves going into that darkest dark, boldly going where no one has gone before! Says School Library Journal, "A splendid story for soothing night fears, fostering future explorers, and teaching children that not even the sky's the limit when it comes to dreaming big."

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