Reading/Interest Level: Preschool, Primary
Author: Emily Tetri
Publisher: First Second
Tiger and Monster do all the awesome stuff best friends usually do together. At bedtime, once Tiger and Monster finish playing their games and are ready for bed, Monster takes post and keeps watch for nightmares. Monster is very good at scaring away nightmares; in fact, the last time Tiger even had a nightmare was when Monster was on vacation. But that changes when a really nasty nightmare turns the tables and scares Monster instead. The next morning Tiger wonders why she had a nightmare. After another failed night on watch, Monster decides to work with his best friend in order to beat the unbeatable. It takes a few tries, but with Monster’s help, Tiger realizes that nightmares are just in her head. That night she bravely banishes the nightmare by declaring the truth—it’s not real. From here, everything changes! Trouncing nightmares as a team is a cinch, and now Monster gets to enjoy a good night’s sleep too.
Emily Tetri’s Tiger vs. Nightmare is full of punch and vim, both in story and art. The graphic novel format is used extremely well. Characters swell with courage, prance playfully, or flex with determination right before your eyes. Tiger’s character is a typical little kid. She drinks up play with her friend and wants to take good care of him. She’s particular about foods. She has memories, she worries, she feels. She also appreciates a good victory “ROAR!” The art and words that make up Tiger portray an authentic, nuanced child figure, a great reflection of a young reader. Great stories have lovable characters, and with her small cast, Tetri pulls off a tale that reverberates with feeling. She opens a window on what it means to be kind, to try again, to try together, to be scared sometimes. The book diagrams problems children sometimes have, and can be used to help them self examine and address fears. It’s an easy way to talk about nightmares, and relates an internal struggle with clarity.