What There Is Before There Is Anything There

  • Title: What There Is Before There Is Anything There (A Scary Story) (Originally published as Lo Que Hay Antes De Que Haya Algo)
  • Author: Liniers (Translated into English by Elisa Amado)
  • Illustrator: Liniers
  • Publisher: First published by Pequeno Editor in Buenos Aires, Argentina, published in the U.S. by Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press
  • Publication year: First published in Argentina in 2006, First U.S. publication and translation in 2014
  • Brief Summary: From House of Anansi Press-“Every night when his parents turn off the light, strange creatures descend from the black space where the ceiling used to be… First comes one, then another and then more and more. They stand all around him, staring, not saying a word. And then, worst of all comes the dark shapeless one that tells him, ‘I am what there is before there is anything there’…Liniers’ art, reminiscent of Hergé and other great comic book artists, portrays the little boy’s growing terror and his frantic dash for his parents’ bedroom. Combined with hand-lettering, it creates the feeling of a graphic novel for very young readers.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library –I don’t know if there is any particular curriculum this could fit under, other than I think it could be used for a English class as children are learning about genres. This is probably the first “creepy” or “scary” children’s book I’ve encountered so far. I think it is important for children to see the full spectrum of their emotions present in the books they read (just like for adults). And many children (I know when I was a child I was the same way) are afraid of the dark and what is lurking where they can’t see. I think it is only natural that children see this in their picture books so they don’t feel they are alone in these feelings.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it –I was very intrigued by this book when it was mentioned in class and very surprised (and delighted) when I found it at the library. I am a big horror buff, horror movies, horror novels, all up my alley. And I have often thought on books that I read as a child and teenager that shaped my love of the genre and all horror subgenres. I think it’s possible that this picture book will be the beginning for another child like I was, who will one day grow up with a peculiar interest in the macabre. I did find this interesting article by a dad on his blog Dad Suggests who basically agrees with me, that we need more creepy picture books. Not for any curriculum tie-in, but thought he was a great writer so worth a quick read. The illustrations in this book remind me of older Halloween books I remember reading as a child, and also oddly of the old Dick and Jane children’s books. I think my favorite illustration from the book is of all the things that go bump in the night standing around our protagonist’s bed (eww, gives you the chills, doesn’t it?).