Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield and Kate Fillion

A review by Nalini Haynes

Commander Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut who sang Space Oddity while floating in the International Space Station and who did science experiments for school children, was the best thing to ever happen to the space program. Now he’s teamed up with another author, Kate Fillion, and a couple of illustrators, Terry Fan and Eric Fan, to produce a fabulous picture book for children about facing your fears and following your dreams.

A picture book about Chris Hadfield in the 1960s, The Darkest Dark is about a child who was, apparently, afraid of the dark. He was also obsessed with space travel; the book includes a photo of Chris as a little boy in his first (cardboard) space ship. Through the book Chris learns he has to face his fear of the dark if he’s going to follow his dream of being an astronaut.

The pictures are all quite dark as the entire story takes place at nighttime. Chris isn’t afraid of the dark when he has a bath or ventures outside to visit neighbours to see the moon landing on their television, but he’s afraid of monsters when he goes to bed. Cute little monsters pop out that remind me of Where The Wild Things Are. Chris comes to terms with his fears.

I suspect some artistic licence has been used to juxtapose Chris’s experience watching the moon landing with a younger Chris who was afraid of the dark and who woke in the night demanding to sleep with his parents. (The added dimension of humour in these scenes had me chuckling!) However, the fictionalised juxtaposition brings home the message to children while making a more engaging story than the bare facts would have.

The Darkest Dark is an adorable book that my children both would have loved, as would I when I was a child. As I do love even as an adult. I highly recommend this book for children, for people who enjoy children’s picture books and for everyone who has been entranced by Commander Chris Hadfield and the space program.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
ISBN: 9781509824090
Format: Paperback, 48 pages
Imprint: Macmillan Children’s Books (Pan Macmillan)
The Darkest Dark — a boy and his dog frolic on the moon near their cardboard rocket