cover image What There Is Before There Is Anything There: A Scary Story

What There Is Before There Is Anything There: A Scary Story

Liniers, trans. from the Spanish by Elisa Amado. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $18.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55498-385-8

In an about-face from The Big Wet Balloon, his sweet-tempered English-language debut, accomplished Argentinian cartoonist Liniers presents an unsettling look at nighttime fears. A boy lies in bed at bedtime, staring at the ceiling. Shadowy, oppressive cross-hatching hints at what’s to come. Wished a cheery good night by his parents, the boy waits alone in the dark. “Where there was a ceiling, now there is nothing,” hand-lettered text explains dispassionately. “He knows that they are coming. They come every night when the ceiling disappears.” First to arrive at the foot of his bed is a tiny being with a nose like a stinger and a black umbrella. More creatures follow—half-comic, half-frightful, masked, and grasping—followed by a giant, writhing mass of blackness with rootlike tentacles. “I am what there is before there is anything there,” it says, reaching with all its arms for the boy, who bolts to his parents’ bedroom. “Not again?” says his father. “It’s just your imagination,” says his mother. But even his parents’ bed isn’t safe. Fear is the new fun, and Jon Klassen and Lemony Snicket’s The Dark has an impressive rival. Ages 4–7. (Sept.)