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Children's Fiction Bedtime & Dreams

What There Is Before There Is Anything There

A Scary Story

by (author) Liniers

translated by Elisa Amado

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Sep 2014
Bedtime & Dreams, Horror & Ghost Stories, Monsters
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2014
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 7
  • Grade: k to 2
  • Reading age: 4 to 7


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.

Destined to become a classic about nighttime fears (like Paul Galdone’s The Teeny-Tiny Woman), this story will resonate with young children who are afraid of the dark, who might be reassured to see that although the little boy’s fears don’t go away, he does find a way to cope with them.

About the authors

Liniers is a cartoonist from Argentina who was born in Buenos Aires in 1973. His work has appeared internationally in newspapers, books and magazines, including Rolling Stone and Spirou. He has created a daily comic strip for the Argentine newspaper La Nación for more than ten years. His US children’s book debut, The Big Wet Balloon, was recently published in English and Spanish editions, was named a Parents Best Book of the Year and received starred reviews from Kirkus and the Horn Book. Liniers enjoys travel and often accompanies his musician-friend Kevin Johansen on tour. He lives with his family in Buenos Aires.

Liniers' profile page

Elisa Amado's profile page

Editorial Reviews

The book is brilliant in its confirmation of an essential truth of childhood.

Kirkus Reviews

Fear is the new fun, and Jon Klassen and Lemony Snicket's The Dark has an impressive rival.

Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

This bravely existential picture book eschews cute monsters in closets to capture the true reality of night terrors.

Horn Book

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