Astronaut Chris Hadfield helps children face fears with new book

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has written a new children’s book, and it’s all about overcoming fear. 

The Darkest Dark introduces young readers to a space-loving boy named Chris who imagines one day becoming an astronaut, but is afraid of the dark.

The story portrays some of Hadfield’s own childhood fears growing up in an old, creaky house in southern Ontario.

“My parents’ farmhouse was built in 1845,” said Hadfield on CBC’s All in a Day. 

“As the house cools and warms it makes noises. So, for me it was very well-populated with aliens and monsters and things shifting in the dark.”

As a boy, Hadfield was often tasked with cleaning out the horses’ stables on his family’s farm, a job that required him to face his fear of the dark.

The Darkest Dark

The Darkest Dark transports young readers to Stag Island in southern Ontario on the night of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. (Penguin Random House Canada)

“It was everything I could do to summon my courage to climb up that ladder and pop my head up into that dark hay mow, sure that there was some horrible creature with a scythe there just waiting for me,” he told host Alan Neal.

The illustrations in the book were drawn by artists — and brothers — Terry and Eric Fan. “I took them to our summer cottage where so much of this story occurred,” said Hadfield.

“So they got to see it [and] we talked about the darkness. What they drew, I think so elegantly, was the feel of the dark.”

Hadfield said he hoped his book will help teach kids how to conquer their own fears. “The whole point of the book of course is, it’s okay and normal to be afraid. But what do you do about it?”

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