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L.A. TIMES FESTIVAL OF BOOKS

Silly and scary moments with the man who is not Lemony Snicket

April 21, 2013|By Tracy Brown
  • Author Lemony Snicket, a.k.a. Daniel Handler, read from his book "The Dark," illustrated by Jon Klassen, who joined him on stage Saturday.
Author Lemony Snicket, a.k.a. Daniel Handler, read from his book "The… (Tom Politeo )

Author Lemony Snicket and children's book illustrator Jon Klassen sparred over their book "The Dark" at  the Target Children’s Stage on Saturday afternoon at the Festival of Books.

Snicket, a.k.a. Daniel Handler, who always denies he is Snicket, wrote the words and Klassen created the illustrations for "The Dark." It's  a picture book that features Laszlo, a child who's afraid of the dark. The dark lives in the boy's home, and the story is about how Laszlo overcomes his fear. 

Klassen, author of his own books such as "This Is Not My Hat" and "I Want My Hat Back," started things off and invited the author to join him on stage.

Snicket announced to the audience that all those waiting to see Lemony Snicket had been lied to. "I don’t know why anyone would lie to children," he droned. "Although it is fun."

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Adults and children alike laughed as Snicket, best known as the author and narrator of "A Series of Unfortunate Events," began to torment Klassen about everything from his casual attire to his artistic talent. As the event moved onto a slide show prepared by the men, Snicket belittled the illustrator’s work while glowingly praising his own.

The only moment Klassen seemed to have an upper hand was when one of his slides about his book "This Is Not My Hat" showed a picture of a crab, which made Snicket shout out in surprise. "Mr. Snicket is terrified of crabs," Snicket explained, still denying he was Snicket.

Snicket then announced he would read "The Dark" out loud while Klassen was tasked with re-creating all the drawings from the book on a white board on the stage. Snicket insisted that Klassen had the easier task, even blindfolding Klassen so he could experience "the dark."

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By this point, the children in the audience were on Klassen’s side and tried to warn him that Snicket was tricking him (as well as stealing his snacks). Klassen continued to draw blindfolded, seemingly unaware of everything, but soon the audience could see that the illustrator was no longer drawing scenes from the book.

When Snicket finally noticed what Klassen had drawn, he screamed and ran off the stage, and kept running away toward the surrounding booths without looking back. Why? Klassen had drawn a giant crab.

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