In the Dark

by Kate Hoefler (Author) Corinna Luyken (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

With striking illustrations that will make your soul fly and spare text that will make your heart dance, this lyrical picture book encourages us to set aside our snap judgements and quiet our fears of the unknown by shining light on what has been kept in the dark.

They came in the dark,

and took the narrow path

that only witches used.

Everyone said that's what they were . . .

But what if everyone was wrong? Watch what happens when one girl steps into the woods and gets to know these newcomers. The spooky black cat? Meet Mingus! The broomsticks and cloaks? Cloth and wooden handles. And those shadows in the sky? Handmade kites, fluttering in the breeze. When the breeze becomes a blustery storm, everything changes...including first impressions.

Told from two perspectives, here is a gentle and timely reminder that all it takes to bridge the gap of misunderstanding and fear between people is an open and willing heart.

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Kirkus Reviews

A marvelous mix of autumnal spirits with a deeper call for understanding.


Magical and astute, In the Dark sheds light on building community through kindness, compassion, and connection.

Horn Book Magazine

Hoefler's text is atmospheric and lyrical; Luyken's mixed-media art....excels at portraying the eeriness of the woods as well as their benign reality.

Publishers Weekly

Via a perspective-oriented picture book that's printed to flip vertically, the creators delicately explore a community divided. On upper pages, Hoefler's conversational text introduces a woods, and figures within, as they're seen by members of an external community ("They came in the dark and took the narrow path that only witches used. Everyone said that's what they were"). Glimpses of action unfolding within the forest, meanwhile, are rendered on bottom pages, narrated by a pale-skinned child who's part of the group being whispered about ("It was a woods full of birds"). Inky multimedia images by Luyken offer a limited view into the woodland, where greens, purples, and yellows hint at the true occurrences taking place. Slowly, readers come to understand the alternate meaning behind the broom-like objects transported, the nighttime bonfire, and the "dark shapes flying over the ridge," whose silhouettes resemble those of Halloween witches. With genuine emotion, the creators cleverly portray both the split community, and the whisperers' remorse when they learn they are mistaken. Human figures are portrayed with various skin tones. Ages 3-7. (Aug.)

Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Kate Hoefler
Kate Hoefler is the author of several picture books, including Nothing in Common (illustrated by Corinna Luyken), Great Big Things, Rabbit and the Motorbike, and Real Cowboys, which received two starred reviews and was a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Kate received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan, where she was a Colby Fellow. She lives in Ohio with her family.

Corinna Luyken is the author-illustrator of ABC AND YOU AND ME (June 2023); THE TREE IN ME (an NCTE Notable Poetry Book and Indie Bestseller); MY HEART (A New York Times Best Seller); and THE BOOK OF MISTAKES (which The Wall Street Journal called "sublime"). She is also the illustrator of IN THE DARK (Aug 2023) and NOTHING IN COMMON, both written by Kate Hoefler; PATCHWORK (A New York Times and Kirkus Best Picture Book of 2022), written by Matt de la Peña; SOMETHING GOOD and ADRIAN SIMCOX DOES NOT HAVE A HORSE, both written by Marcy Campbell; and WEIRD LITTLE ROBOTS, written by Carolyn Crimi. She was raised in Oregon, California, and Hawaii; and studied dance improvisation, poetry, and printmaking at Middlebury College in Vermont. She now lives near the Salish Sea in Olympia, WA with her husband, daughter, and two small cats.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date
August 29, 2023
BISAC categories
JUV039050 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Emotions & Feelings
JUV037000 - Juvenile Fiction | Fantasy & Magic
JUV003000 - Juvenile Fiction | Art & Architecture
Library of Congress categories
Picture books

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