cover image Nightmares!


Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, illus. by Karl Kwasny. Delacorte, $16.99 (368p)

Coraline meets Monsters, Inc. in this delightfully entertaining offering from actor Segel and co-author Miller (How to Lead a Life of Crime), first in a trilogy. Twelve-year-old Charlie Laird believes his new stepmother is a witch, in part due to his horrible nightmares about being held captive by witches. Charlie soon learns that the witches' Netherworld is real, and his fear has opened a portal allowing creatures to travel between realms. When Charlie ventures into the Netherworld to rescue his kidnapped younger brother, he becomes embroiled in an epic struggle to prevent the terrifying President Fear from turning the mortal world into a place of eternal nightmares. In a story that's both whimsical and disturbing, Charlie works to rescue his friends, help them overcome their fears, and find his courage. Segel and Miller make for a solid team; their Netherworld is populated by everything from talking bugs to killer clowns, and the underlying message%E2%80%94sometimes you have to admit to and confront your fears%E2%80%94is important. Kwasny's illustrations provide a fitting mixture of realism and absurdity. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. Agent: Erin Malone, William Morris Endeavor and Abrams Entertainment. (Sept.)