HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: One Dark and Scary Night
Author: Bill Cosby
Illustrator: Varnette P. Honeywood
Publisher: Scholastic Cartwheel Books, 1999
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Age s 4 – 8
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Cosby, Bill. One Dark and Scary Night (Published in 1999 by Cartwheel Books, an trademark of Scholastic Inc., 555 Broadway, New York City, NY 10012). Little Bill lives with his parents, brother Bobby, and great-grandmother Alice the Great. One night when everyone else is asleep, Little Bill sees a light on the wall, hears a thump in the ceiling, and just knows that there’s a “thing” in his closet. So he runs to his parents’ room. Dad tells him to go back to bed. Mom takes him back to his room. But he’s still scared and runs to his great-grandmother’s room. Can he stay there? Will he ever get to sleep in his own room? What does Alice the Great do to help him?
Fear of the dark is a common childhood problem. Even I can remember as a child, at least for a short while, wondering what kind of monster was lurking under my bed, just waiting to grab my ankles when I got up to go to the bathroom. Easy-to-read chapter books like this can give both parents and children a means for dealing with the perils of bedtime. Some people may not like the end, when the grandmother resorts to “magic” to get rid of the “monsters,” thinking that this will support a child’s belief in both. However, Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, noted “A security blanket, ‘magic object,’ or simple bedtime ritual often helps,” primarily as a temporary measure until the situation can be sorted out and the child learns better.
One Dark and Scary Night is “A Little Bill Book for Beginning Readers.” I picked it up because of the author, who has certainly been a well-beloved comedian and storyteller. Apparently based on Cosby’s own childhood, quite a few of these Little Bill Books were published. Unfortunately, as a result of what has happened since, they would probably be considered politically incorrect today. That’s a shame, because most normal kids will find the book both fun and funny with a tale that they can relate to and illustrations by Varnette Honeywood that suit the story perfectly. Other titles include The Meanest Thing to Say, The Treasure Hunt, The Best Way to Play, Super-Fine Valentine, Shipwreck Saturday, and Money Troubles.