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Thursday, February 19
Written by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller, illustrated by Karl Kwasny
My rating: ★★★
Date of publication: September 9, 2014
Age: Grades 4 - 7
Themes: fear, family, monsters, courage, depression
Charlie can't sleep. Not that he doesn't want to, but even little naps put him in a terrifying nightmare with a witch ready to eat him—a witch that sure looks a lot like his step-mom! And when his nightmares start entering the real world, he's sure "Step-Monster" is to blame. But then his little brother is kidnapped by the witch and taken to the Netherworld, and Charlie knows he has to go after him. Even if it means he has to face his worst fears.
This book is pretty dark and depressing at first; Charlie is sleep-deprived, depressed, angry, and having terrible nightmares. Also, it's loooooong. Like, almost-didn't-finish long. The beginning seriously drags, and the actual conquering of fears requires a lot of work. So I was a little surprised that it's targeted to kids as young as 8 years (according to the publisher).
But still. I did appreciate its message. It takes a lot of courage to face one's fears, whatever they may be. By the end, I was feeling pretty favorable towards the book. Once I got past the slow, depressing beginning, and Charlie was on the mission to save his brother, the plot was exciting and more upbeat. There were some pretty awesome characters. In the end, I say it's up to you. Pick it up if you like!
Find it at your library or on Amazon