A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Nightmares!, by actor Jason Segel and veteran author Kirsten Miller, explores dark territory and uses scary imagery. But, ultimately, it's a reassuring, comforting book about the power of fear and how to overcome it. The death of Charlie's mother several years earlier and his suspicion that his new stepmother's a witch drive the plot. His friends have their own weighty worries, including a boy dealing with teasing and a girl whose mother suffers from severe depression. Their adventures in the Netherworld can be harrowing: They're in constant danger, and menacing characters lurk everywhere.
What's the story?
Twelve-year-old Charlie hasn't had a decent night's sleep in months -- not since his family moved into the creepy purple mansion belonging to his stepmom, Charlotte. She's a witch, he's certain of it, and she's probably partly to blame for the menacing witch who taunts Charlie every night as he sleeps. During the day, Charlie irritably snaps at his brother, his dad, and even his friends, who are concerned about him. Charlie feels guilty, but he's more worried about the witch, who's threatening to take him -- or worse, his brother -- to the Netherworld for good. The only way to end his nightmare is by crossing into the Netherworld and facing his fears, with help from his friends and the walking nightmares who live on the other side.
Is it any good?
This is a charming read rather than an edgy, dark thriller, more Tim Burton and Roald Dahl than Lemony Snicket. NIGHTMARES! the first in a trilogy by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller. Charlie's nightmare is based on the same scary dreams that spooked Segel as a child, and he and Miller aim to reassure children that fear is normal, OK, and conquerable.
The writing is a little flat, and the children, armed with positive affirmations and frequent epiphanies, rise a little too easily to formidable challenges. But children are likely to enjoy the warmhearted, affectionately told tale and the appealing characters. The Netherworld is richly imagined with a nice balance of humor and horror -- this is one nightmare young readers will eagerly revisit.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Charlie's friends and family try to help even when he's being so hostile. Have you ever pushed people away when you really needed help? Have you had friends who tried to hide their fear or hurt?
How does fantasy help us explore our fears and anxieties?
One of the coauthors based his story on his childhood nightmares. Try writing a story based on your own dreams.
- Authors: Jason Segel, Kirsten Miller
- Illustrator: Karl Kwasny
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Delacorte Press
- Publication date: September 9, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 368
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.