HAPPY SATURDAY, guys!
We're celebrating the Nightmares! series this weekend, by reviewing the first two books in the series.
Today, we kick off with a review of Nightmares!, a funny, imaginative book detailing a mysterious house and a young boy's question to figure out just why nightmares are slowly beginning to take over his life...
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Charlie Laird has several problems.
1. His dad married a woman he is sure moonlights as a witch.
2. He had to move into her purple mansion, which is NOT a place you want to find yourself after dark.
3.He can’t remember the last time sleeping wasn’t a nightmarish prospect. Like even a nap.
What Charlie doesn’t know is that his problems are about to get a whole lot more real. Nightmares can ruin a good night’s sleep, but when they start slipping out of your dreams and into the waking world—that’s a line that should never be crossed.
And when your worst nightmares start to come true . . . well, that’s something only Charlie can face. And he’s going to need all the help he can get, or it might just be lights-out for Charlie Laird. For good.
My interest was further piqued, when this trailer appeared:
Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller introduce us to Charlie Laird, a poor sleep-deprived young man, who hasn't been able to sleep, since moving into a creepy purple mansion. While he's convinvced that his new stepmother is a witch and responsible for his nightmares, Laird quickly discovers that his nightmares are a little more complicated than he realized...
What's fantastic about Nightmares! is that it starts off with the unusual premise that yes, the world - whether real or nightmare-induced - can be a scary place. Charlie isn't afraid to admit that he is genuinely afraid of the nightmares that visit him every night, and is willing to take refuge from them however he can.
Which makes Charlie's eventual decision to pursue his nightmares into the Netherworld - a land where nightmares dwell - in the quest of rescuing a loved one, all the more impressive. Segel and Miller show the innate bravery that it takes for Charlie to put aside his fears and go into the realm, along with the realization that many of his original presumptions about his nightmares aren't accurate - something that will resonate deeply with younger readers.
Outside of Charlie's overall journey, Segel and Miller do a nice job of exploring how some of Charlie and his friends' fears are directly connected to challenges in their day-to-day lives. Many of Charlie's group don't talk about these fears because they're embarassed to admit to them, and Segel and Miller gently reinforce the fact that there's a strength to vocalizing what you're scared of, including finding common ground with others who may have different ideas on fighting (and even befriending!) those fears.
Bottom line: Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller have put their minds together to come up with a book that's not only entertaining, but also extremely layered. Charlie's nightmare world will appeal to younger readers for its imaginative takes on common fears, but also for its humorous, intelligent recognition that fears can be conquered, especially with the help of good friends and team work.
Highly recommend for fans of middle grade fiction, and for readers who are interested in trying something new.
About the authors:
Jason Segel used to have nightmares just like Charlie, and just like Charlie, he’s learned that the things we’re most afraid of are the things that can make us strong…if we’re brave enough to face them. Jason likes acting, writing, making music, and hanging out with his friends. Sometimes he writes movies. Sometimes he writes songs for movies. Sometimes he stars in those movies and sings those songs. You might know him from The Muppets and Despicable Me. Your parents might know him from other stuff. The New York Times bestseller Nightmares! is his first novel. Look for the second book in the series, The Sleepwalker Tonic, available from Delacorte Press.
Kirsten Miller grew up in a small town just like Cypress Creek, minus the purple mansion. Now she lives and writes in New York City. Kirsten wrote Nightmares!and The Sleepwalker Tonic with Jason Segel. She is also the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Kiki Strike books, the Eternal Ones series, and How to Lead a Life of Crime. Visit her at kirstenmillerbooks.com.