As the air begins to chill and the shadows start to creep in, October is the perfect month to delve into a world of mysterious imaginings with, Everything You Need to Know About NIGHTMARES! and How to Defeat Them. Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller created this fourth book as a companion to their popular Nightmares! series. Even if you haven’t checked out the trilogy yet, this handbook is the perfect introduction.
While this book is written with a young audience in mind the weaving of short stories, lore, and eerie illustrations provided me with the perfect “spoopy” evening. I was reminded of the companion book created by J.K. Rowling, which recently received its very own movie adaptation, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, as I read through Segel and Miller’s work. Even though many of the things described in this book reside in the Netherworld, the discussion of what brings these nightmares to life provides advice for better dreams that even adults can use. For example in the section focused on “The Life Suckers,” nightmare vampires are described as inspired by people in your real life who are sapping you of your energy. The authors then argue that the best way to combat these nightmares is to stand up to whoever is draining you in real life and then you’ll have the confidence to defeat their nightmare relative. There are also some fun tips that will help kids having nightmares sleep a bit better by distracting them from what might be frightening them. These include putting a peanut butter cracker in a baggie under your pillow to take into your dreams, going to bed with your least comfortable shoes on to avoid sleepwalking, and doing 25 jumping jacks to ward off the Grim Reaper.
In certain sections there are also references to some legends that tie nightmares into the larger historical narrative of human fear. The Baba Yaga is included within the section on “The Gobblers,” werewolves in “The Chasers,” and even The Spanish Inquisition at the end of the chapter on “The Tormentors.” There was also a delightful nod to the chupacabra, which I personally think is an underrated mythical monster. Segel and Miller also include brief stories throughout that focus on different characters from the Nightmares! series that show children successfully defeating the things in their nightmares. This even includes a frightening encounter with a clown named Darby, who returns later in a surprising way. The illustrations throughout the book are also a fantastic addition that really help to bring the nightmarish creatures to life.
I found Everything You Need to Know About NIGHTMARES! and How to Defeat Them an absolutely delightful read. I’d recommend it for any kids with a taste for the slightly spooky and for parents who are looking for the ideal book to share with their children as Halloween gets closer. I also think a number of adult readers, who are young at heart, will enjoy spending some time venturing into the Netherworld.
You can find Everything You Need to Know About NIGHTMARES! and How to Defeat Them anywhere books are sold!
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