Orion and the Dark

Written and illustrated by Emma Yarlett
40 pages  •  Published 2015 (Templar Books)
Book cover
Recommended Age Range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Publisher's Summary: Orion is scared of a lot of things, but most of all he’s scared of the dark. So one night the Dark decides to take Orion on an adventure.
Book cover

Dr. Annie's Takeaways

Recommended for: Therapists can use this book as an introduction to exposure therapy to address a fear of the dark. Caregivers and children can read this book together and talk about how Dark can be a friend. I might follow up a read of this book with a fun, dark-themed activity like making shadow puppets.
Would a child like it? Many children would enjoy this book about going on a journey to the remote parts of one’s house and ultimately to outer space. Children who are really creeped out by monsters might find it a bit too scary.
Evidence-Based Practices: Exposure
Tone: Magical, a bit dark, dreamy
Story Quality: It’s an adventure story that’s a tiny bit scary at first, but then turns magical. The dark is pictured as a fairly cute monster-blob covered in stars who helps Orion to see how fun the dark can be. It’s an imaginative story that will prompt kids to fantasize about going on fun adventures in the dark.
Illustrations: Pretty, blue-themed watercolor illustrations mixed with pages of Orion’s journal (including drawings that look like a kid made them).
Representation: Orion is a White boy. He has a mother and father who are mentioned but not pictured in the story. Orion lives in a house in a town with buildings close together.
Psychological Practices: Dark takes Orion on an adventure to all of the places that trigger his fear of the dark (e.g., under the bed, in the basement), and Orion realizes that these places can actually be fun. Dark then takes Orion outside to learn more about the creepy noises that he hears while he is inside the house, and Orion realizes that “they weren’t frightening at all.” Dark then takes Orion up into space where they sit on the moon. It’s a fun story and also a model of facing one’s fears and realizing that they weren’t dangerous afterall.
Concerns: This is mostly just a pet peeve, but there’s a page that describes the many fears that Orion has (he is a child with many worries, but the dark is his biggest fear), and one of these fears is “girls.” I have to roll my eyes a bit and write it here.

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