A small tiger stands at the foot of a bed, holding up her fists in a defensive position with a determined look on her face. Text: "Tiger vs. Nightmare. Emily Tetri."

KidLit Book Review: Tiger vs. Nightmare by Emily Tetri


Synopsis

Tiger is a very lucky kid: she has a monster living under her bed. Every night, Tiger and Monster play games until it’s time for lights out. Of course, Monster would never try to scare Tiger — that’s not what best friends do.

But Monster needs to scare someone…it’s a monster, after all. So while Tiger sleeps, Monster scares all of her nightmares away. Thanks to her friend, Tiger has nothing but good dreams. But waiting in the darkness is a nightmare so big and mean that Monster can’t fight it alone. Only teamwork and a lot of bravery can chase this nightmare away.


Details

  • Title: Tiger vs. Nightmare
  • Author/Illustrator: Emily Tetri
  • Publisher: First Second Books
  • ISBN: 1626725357
  • Publication Date: November 6, 2018
  • For Ages: 6-10
  • Category: Early Reader
  • Spooky-Scary or Spooky-Fun? ☠️ Scary.

I’d like to thank First Second Books for providing a free copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Review

Tiger vs. Nightmare is a sweet, touching, and exquisitely illustrated story about friendship, teamwork, and learning to conquer your fears. Tiger and Monster are best friends: they play together every evening, and when Tiger goes to bed, Monster fends off Tiger’s nightmares so she can sleep peacefully throughout the night. One night, however, Monster meets a nightmare that isn’t so easily defeated, and the two friends have to come up with a plan to fight the nightmare together. Emily Tetri’s loose, expressive artwork perfectly captures both the joy and humor of Tiger and Monster’s friendship and the abstract terror of Tiger’s nightmares.

Two comic book pages. Left: The outside of a futuristic green and blue house with antennae on top of a domed roof. Rounded hover cars with fins float along the road in front of the house. Right: Tiger's family eats a meal at the dinner table with other adult animal friends: a deer, a fox, a rhino, and a wolf. Tiger asks to be excused from the table and asks for a plate of food for the monster under her bed.

Tetri’s humor and brilliant character work shine particularly brightly when Tiger and Monster enact their first plan to fight the nightmare. In two of my favorite graphic novel pages in recent memory, Tiger outfits Monster with some armor at bedtime and then the two friends pump each other up for the fight ahead. I’m a big believer in letting people discover the joys of certain illustrations for themselves, so I haven’t included any images from that sequence, but you can tell by the other illustrations I’ve shared just how beautiful Tetri’s artwork is and how strong her storytelling skills are.

Two comic book pages. Left: Monster eats the food Tiger got from the dinner table, and Tiger gets a board game out for them to play. Right: three panels, top to bottom, show: (1) Tiger and Monster playing the board game in deep concentration; (2) Tiger brushing her fangs while Monster stretches in the background; and (3) Tiger snoring in bed with the lights out as Monster sits on the edge of the bed and watches over her.

Every page of this book is a joy, with loving family interactions between Tiger and her parents, heartwarming scenes of friendship as Tiger and Monster play together, charming dashes of humor, and a triumphant ending that teaches young readers how to defeat their own nightmares. Tiger vs. Nightmare is an ideal gift for children who are having trouble fending off bad dreams, but this is a title that will appeal to anyone who enjoys a great story and gorgeous artwork. It is indeed a book you just want to hug, and Tetri’s recent Eisner nomination is richly deserved. This is a masterful graphic novel from cover to cover.


Rating

Where can I get some fang wash? I give this book 5 out of 5 coffins.

5 Coffins


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