Hello, Dark Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

“A new perspective combats a common childhood fear: the dark.

Beneath a flock of imaginary sheep running across a rainbow, an Asian-presenting boy lies in bed beneath his covers smiling with the company of a friendly-looking ghostly shadow.…The spare text gently narrates as the kid declares, ‘I’m tired of being afraid of you. Tonight, can we talk?’ Dark purple and blue hues saturate each detailed illustration as the child acknowledges the “good things” the dark also provides. A menagerie of animals playing in the twilight and dreamy scenes of the sky attest to how the dark facilitates life for nocturnal creatures and rest for others. The child then offers a hand to the shadow with an invitation: ‘Let’s be friends.’ In subsequent pages, the child models ways readers can interact with the dark: ‘play imaginary games’; ‘count sheep’; ‘practice breathing’; and ‘listen to music.’ Eventually, and with the help of a night light, the child concludes, ‘I’m sure we can be friends,’ and watches Dark, no longer an object of fear, head back into the closet. The young child presents as East Asian.

This tale compassionately guides young readers to face their fears.”

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School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 1–Fear is replaced with reverie in Wong’s matter-of-fact conversation between an Asian boy and “Dark,” who frightens him every night with sound and atmospherics. The child, with black hair puffed as a chrysanthemum and wearing rumpled pajamas, is fed up with being afraid, and lists all the things Dark does well. Dark shields the earth to give it time to rest, nocturnal animals can play safely in the shadows, and more. The narrator reaches up, toward Dark, and realizes that his newly amiable companion may be lonely. The monologue then turns to happier things, such as shadow play, meditation, and sharing music. The ­illustrations are moody and walk a fine line between what the child imagines and the shadows that might actually occupy a bedroom in the dark. The boy’s narration is age-appropriate and logical, as he works through his feelings to safety. VERDICT A generous look at nighttime, and the fact that it unfolds in dim rooms and under black skies gives it a resonant veracity. For all bedtime shelves. –Kimberly Olson Fakih”

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CM Magazine

“Written simply and poetically in a reassuring and confident monologue, Hello, Dark will help children to understand why the darkness is necessary. The author’s note explains that this story “reframes the dark in a positive context”, something which it has indeed achieved. The illustrations transport the reader into a nighttime atmosphere and range from depicting a cozy bedroom in rich blue-green hues to the resplendent shades of purple in a starry night sky overseen by a friendly moon. The detail in some of the scenes is astounding, in particular, the picture books on the shelves and the newspaper pirate’s hat. Hello, Dark will be a comfort to children and an essential title for parents who struggle with their children’s fear of the dark. Highly recommended for all children’s collections.”

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Manhattan Book Review

“Wong’s bedtime story offers strategies to manage a child’s fear of the dark. Her Author’s Note at the end explains what inspired the book and includes other strategies such as mindful breathing or listening to music. Tamara Campeau’s richly drawn illustrations, with their dark colors and nighttime setting, bring out the beautiful details of the darkness instead of its scariness.”

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Youth Services Book Review

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. 

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.”

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Canadian Children’s Book Centre

“In this, her debut picture book, Wai Mei Wong has written a compelling story which encourages children to gain control of their anxieties. By articulating concerns and re-imagining a negative situation into a positive one, this book celebrates the inner strength of children in overcoming their fear of the dark. A helpful note to caregivers offers support and strategies.

Tamara Campeau’s vibrant digital illustrations subtly portray the child’s transformation from apprehensive to accepting as Dark grows into a more congenial character. Of visual interest is the child’s bedroom, a comforting milieu filled with toys and a library shelf featuring picture books, two of which have been illustrated by Campeau.”

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The International Educator

Hello, Dark by Wai Mei Wong gives voice to a child who is afraid of the dark. “I hear you creak, and cast shadows all around,” he whispers, alone in bed. But soon he realizes that the dark helps animals at night, even helps the moon shine bright.”

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Storytime With Stephanie

“Wai Mei Wong is an early childhood educator and has drawn on her experiences working with young children and their families to create this beautiful resource which also includes strategies parents and caregivers can use to help ease bedtime anxiety. Working in a preschool myself, I have definitely fielded the question about bedtime/nighttime anxiety and think that this story would make a great addition to the resource shelves in daycares.

The illustrations by Tamara Campeau make the dark seem less intimidating and more like a great new friend. The rich blues in all of the illustrations add a dreaminess to the story. I especially love her depictions of the nighttime animals and the wonderful book covers featured in the child’s bedroom.

This is definitely a story I will be adding to our preschool resource shelves for the next time we encounter the bedtime questions.”

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Bookishrealm (Goodreads)

“This was an interesting picture book. It’s been a while since I’ve come across a newer title that focuses so heavily on a child’s fear of the dark. This will be great for parents/caregivers who are looking for additional support in helping their children cope with a fear of the dark. Not only does the author address the concerns of the child, but through the text the attempt to reframe the child’s perception of what the “dark” really is.”

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Bethany (Goodreads)

“Befriending the dark is a smart concept because how can you be afraid of something if it’s your friend? I love how the author addresses the fear of darkness in an indirect and positive light. Instead of focusing on the boy’s apprehension, the author twists it so the dark is the one who’s lonely and looking for a friend too. The overall dark illustrations fit the theme and I love how the illustrator portrays darkness as a shadow so it puts emphasis on it being an actual friend to talk with. Not something to be scared of.

Final Verdict: HELLO, DARK is the perfect book for children who have a fear of the dark. A parent’s job is to bring positivity into a child’s life and this author gives parents the opportunity to do exactly that.”

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CanLit for Little Canadians

“Too many parents and teachers dismiss children’s fears of the dark by telling them that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Sadly, that does not eliminate the fear. By addressing a child’s fear as something tangible, even as a dark amorphous form, Wai Mei Wong has let this child have his fear and helps him, and every child who reads this book, to cope with it. He is every child and so his solutions to deal with the dark could also belong to every child. Moreover, by having him try a variety of strategies from breathing to listening to music, using his imagination and self-soothing through talk, Wai Mei Wong offers children opportunities to make friends with the dark for themselves.

Artist Tamara Campeau could have given the night the eerie nature that many children attribute to it but this deeply-coloured book is anything but dark. Tamara Campeau, who recently illustrated the gorgeous Grandfather Bowhead, Tell Me a Story, uses rich blues and purples to evoke the night but permeates the child’s room with the primary colours, even if subdued in a lack of light. From his pajamas and bed covers to growth chart and books, everything that is familiar to him is always there, even if the dark is too, and reassures children that all those much-loved playthings and familiar bedroom items will still be there in the morning.”

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Canadian Bookworm

“The illustrations show the dark as a shape, but not as a monster, more as a shadow, and I loved the details of the boy’s room and the outdoor world. His interest in vehicles is clear.

This is a book that directly addresses the fears that some young children have about the dark and allays them. I liked that the boy took control, a good message for kids about how they interact with things in their world, as an active participant.

I think this will be a useful book for many families.”

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Mr. Alex’s Bookshelf

“Written by early childhood educator Wal Mei Wong, Hello Dark, hits the sweet spot in terms of helping kids overcome an aversion to “the dark.”

A simple, sweet storyline has our hero befriending darkness, personified mostly through shadow, and employing child-led solutions to overcoming nighttime fears.

The words are simple, as are the illustrations. The pacing is brief and kept quick. However, the message resonates….”

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