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Fear of the Dark

The Monster who ate Darkness
by Joyce Dunbar, illustrated by Jimmy Liao
(Walker Books)
The tiny monster under Jo-Jo's bed loves darkness so much that he eats it, and the more he eats, the bigger he grows. He eats and eats and eats until there is no darkness left. That's when he discovers that dark is useful. Without the dark, the nocturnal creatures get confused and humans can't sleep. When the monster hears Jo-Jo crying, he goes to comfort him and, before long, the world is back to normal.
   This picture books deals with two fears at once - monsters under the bed and darkness - and the illustrations have just the right touch of humour to make sure that this monster isn't scarey.
(reviewed by Diana Kimpton)
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The Dark, Dark Night
by M Christina Butler and Jane Chapman
(Little Tiger Press)
One dark, dark night, Frog discovers a monster by his pond. He calls his friends to have a look, but each of them sees a different monster. It's not until Dormouse arrives that they realise it's not a monster at all - they are just frightened of their own shadows. This funny story is a lovely way to help children who share the same fear.
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Oscar and the Moth
by Geoff Waring
(Walker Books)
Knowledge is a good way to conquer fear so this non-fiction book for the very young deserves its place on this page. Oscar is an endearing, large-eyed kitten who has a questioning attitude to everything he sees around him. When Oscar asks a friendly moth ‘Where does the sun go at night?’ it’s the start of a night-time journey of discovery, not only into astronomy but also aspects of physics and biology such as what causes shadows and how some creatures make their own lights. Keen-eyed children can find more things to ask their own questions about in the uncluttered illustrations, which are as clear and accurate as scientific diagrams but at the same time entertaining.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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What's That Noise?
by Michelle Edwards and Phyllis Root
(Walker Books)
When Alex's little brother is frightened of the night noises, he asks Alex to sing to him. But to do that, Alex has to cross the cold, dark floor and brave the frightening shadows. The illustrations don't just show the shadows - they also show the objects that make them. As a result, this book is a useful starting point for talking about why ordinary things look more scarey at night.
Ages 2-6
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The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark
by Jill Tomlinson, illustrated by Paul Howard
(Egmont)
"Dark is nasty" says Plop the baby barn owl which is a problem as he is supposed to be a nocturnal. But gradually he learns that dark can be many other things - exciting, kind, fun, necessary, wonderful and beautiful - until he finally decides that "Dark is super". This abridged version of the classic children's story works well as a picture book.
Ages 3-6
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Can't You Sleep, Little Bear 
by Martin Waddell and Barbara Firth  
(Walker Books)
This warm, gentle story of how Big Bear helps Little Bear cope with his fear of the dark has rightly become a classic. The atmospheric illustrations and appealing characters combine with the text to make the night look safe. Suitable for 2-6 year olds (2 year olds need to be used to stories as this one has more words than some other picture books)
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