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We listened to this book an audio. Surprisingly it is read by Jason Segel, one of the authors. Nightmares can be a scary subject but I think the book handles it well. My child has a high tolerance for scary stores, he likes Goosebumps and such so I may not be an accurate judge. I think the messages in this book make it well worth the read. There is symbolism of Charlie recognizing, at twelve, that he can't control his anger and in his nightmare the witch has eyes with lenses of silvery mirrors forcing him to see himself. (p. 34) He doesn't draw any conclusion but sets up the allegory. He feels "darkness brewing inside him" (p. 41) and refers to his step-mother consistently as a stepmonster. Charlie has some very complicated feelings, largely resulting from the death of his mother three years before the story begins and complicated by dad's remarriage. The feelings are expertly real - like Charlie's frustration that his dad allowed his little brother to wear Charlie's Captain America costume without considering "that it was the last Halloween costume Charlie's mother had ever made for him." (p. 40) The allegory continues on page 73 when the witch tells Charlie, "You built this whole place, from the dungeon up. You even gave yourself that cage with a lovely view of the forest. You wanted a place where you could sit and sulk and be perfectly safe. Because you know that as long as you stay in the cage, your worst nightmare can't find you." Because the witch in Charlie's nightmares knows details of his waking life he assumes the witch must be his step-mother instead of recognizing that his dreams are his subconscious so of course elements of real transfer over. (p. 93)

Towards the end, the book started to remind me a lot of Monsters, Inc.

There are some GREAT lessons for blended families and children who have experienced the death of a parent. (Probably just as well that the surviving parent reads to book too to see things through their kids' eyes.) One of Charlie's biggest fears is that Charlotte will take his dad away. (p. 259-260) It turns out Charlie's worst nightmares was dreaming of his mom because, "The pain was almost too much to bear. He had missed her so much. He couldn't stand to his his mom back for a few minutes - and then have to let her go again." (p. 300-301)

Minor parental notes:

  • a 7th grade boy says his friends step-mom is "hot". (p. 79)

  • there is a reference to a mom being "so sad that she had to stay in a hospital". (p. 110)

  • characters in a nightmare chant for a boy to "Pee your pants". (p. 181)

Round 1 Questions

What book begins at "five minutes past midnight"?

What book is set in a town called Cypress Creek?

"Nightmares!" (p. 1)

"Nightmares!" (p. 1)

In what book does a character discover

that duct tape pulls out eyebrows?

In what book is there a mansion on De Chant hill?


(p. 3)

"Nightmares!" (p. 3)

In what book does a town have an annual radish festival?

"Nightmares!" (p. 9)

What book says shadows "need a little light to live"?

In what book did a girl's hair smell like strawberries?

"Nightmares!" (p. 68)

"Nightmares!" (p. 68)

In what book does a character learn that "witches don't melt"?

"Nightmares!" (p. 126)

In what book is President Fear a leader?

In what book are pruning shears used to cut ropes?

In what book are goblins referred to as "nosepickers"?

In what book does a character say, "Fear is like tar.

It sticks to everything and swallows it all up."

"Nightmares!" (p. 163)

"Nightmares!" (p. 164)

"Nightmares!" (p. 167)

"Nightmares!" (p. 169)

In what book is a mother's advice,

"Two will always be stronger than one."

In what book does a character find an ancient elevator?

"Nightmares!" (p. 178)

"Nightmares!" (p. 180)

In what book did a mom leave a bone for a stone dog?

In what book is a character told, "You can't skip the hard stuff.

Try to solve a problem the easy way and it will only get worse."

In what book does a character think

"when life can't get any worse, it can only get better."

In what book does a boy dress up like a girl ghost?

"Nightmares!" (p. 193)

"Nightmares!" (p. 199)

"Nightmares!" (p. 205)

"Nightmares!" (p. 222)

In what book are we told, "Everyone is scared of something"?

"Nightmares!" (p. 237)

In what book does a character call another character "Podge"?

In what book does a character say

the why is more important than the what?

"Nightmares!" (p. 239)

"Nightmares!" (p. 243)

In what book are we told, "every knight has a chink in his armor"?

"Nightmares!" (p. 267)

In what book is a can of Sloppy Joe Mix used as a weapon?

"Nightmares!" (p. 279)

In what book does a witch wait

for the main character to come find her?

In what book are waffles a mother's "special dish"?

In what book is there a poem that begins,

"The next lesson to learn is one that takes guts,

But not against punches or scratches or cuts."?

"Nightmares!" (p. 282)

"Nightmares!" (p. 288)

"Nightmares!" (p. 291)

In what book does a character feel,

"like he'd stuck a fork in an electric socket"?

"Nightmares!" (p. 311)

In what book is a character known as "The Amazing Turtle"?

"Nightmares!" (p. 321)

Round 2 Questions

What color is the mansion in "Nightmares!"?

What is the name of the town in "Nightmares!"?

When "Nightmares!" opens, how long has it been

since Charlie Laird has gotten a good night's sleep?

How many boxes sit in the middle

of Charlie's room in "Nightmares!"?

purple (p. 1)

Cypress Creek (p. 1)

3 months (p. 2)

38 (p. 3)

How many sides does the tower

in the mansion have in "Nightmares!"?

8 (octagonal, p. 1)

What was the name of the super hero

that Jack dressed up as in "Nightmares!"?

In "Nightmares!", who did Charlie say discovered gravity?

Captain America (p. 39)

Alfie (p. 63)

In "Nightmares!", where did Charlie take a nap during PE?

inside a tunnel [of the obstacle course] /

on the little-kid playground

What do Charlie and his crew

call their secret meeting place in "Nightmares!"?

The bunker, in "Nightmares!",

is near what Cypress Creek landmark?

In "Nightmares!", what are Larry, Barry and Fernando?

the bunker (p. 110)

the library (p. 109)

snakes (p. 149)

In "Nightmares!", what three animals were in

the Colosseum in Alfie's nightmare?

In "Nightmares!", what class was Alfie failing?

lion, tiger, bear (p. 174)

gym (p. 171)

In "Nightmares!", what is Medusa's job

when she is not "scaring humans senseless"?

In "Nightmares!", when Medusa says Basil is

two thousand years old, how old does she say she is?

In "Nightmares!", what kind of stone animal did

Basil bring his mother from the Waking World?

actress (p. 214)

[diva (p. 225)]

39 (p. 218)

chipmunk (p. 220)

In "Nightmares!", what is number four

on President Fear's To Do list?

"Try a Krispy Kreme doughnut." (p. 235)

In "Nightmares!", Paige was afraid of what?

What does Charlie think gives Jack bad dreams in "Nightmares!"?

In "Nightmares!", who was the test taker?

The Dark (p. 242)

himself / Charlie (p. 262)

Rocco (p. 267)

In "Nightmares!", who comes up with the [solution / plan]

to escape the Goblins and the Netherworld?

Rocco (p. 275)

What did President Fear release into the water

when Alfie was swimming the obstacle course in "Nightmares!"?

piranhas (p. 318)