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Kitchen Table Reviews: Nighttime: Too Scared to Sleep

The family brings this collection of scary stories on a camping trip.

By Mir Kamin | July 24 , 2009
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<i>Nighttime: Too Scared to Sleep</i> by Todd Strasser
Nighttime: Too Scared to Sleep by Todd Strasser

My children have always gobbled up any “scary” book I’ve brought home for them, so when I spotted the Nighttime books, I figured we’d give ‘em a go. Too Scared to Sleep came on a recent camping trip with us—when my son asked if we could tell ghost stories around the fire, I gave him the book and he read aloud to the rest of us.

Me: Did this book actually make you too scared to sleep?

Daughter: No.

Son: Nah, they weren’t that scary. Just sort of scary.

Daughter: They weren’t even sort of scary, most of them. They were sort of dumb.

Me: Well I think you’re a little older than the target age for these.

Daughter: Whatever. They’re too short, too, to be real stories. I like stuff that’s longer.

Me: Well that’s kind of the point with these—they’re very quick, but with enough unexpected things to keep it interesting. Did you like any of the stories?

Daughter: I kind of liked the one about the karaoke machine that wouldn’t stop playing. If I had to pick a favorite, that would be it.

Son: Me too! The karaoke one was my favorite. They remind me of Goosebumps, but shorter. And I don’t think they’re too short. They’d be good to read in the car, or when you only have a couple of minutes to read.

Me: Were they good around the campfire? Sufficiently spooky?

Son: Definitely.

Me: I don’t know if I can approve of this one…

Daughter: See!

Me: … I mean, there isn’t a single story about an enchanted monkey’s paw.

Son: A what?

Me: A monkey’s paw! Don’t you two know about the curse of the monkey’s paw??

Son: Nope.

Daughter: Is this another one of those things from when you were a kid that you think is really great but is actually boring?

Me: No, it’s—hey!

Daughter: Sorry.

Me: Anyway, never mind the monkey’s paw. What ages for this book?

Daughter: Younger than me.

Me: Wow, that was very helpful. You?

Son: Maybe 5 to 10?

Me: Whoa, I think 5 is a little young for some of the content. Maybe 7 to 10?

Son: Sure, that sounds good.

All in all, neither child’s reaction surprised me; my daughter went back to reading her typical Young Adult, tween/teen girl angst books, and my son rooted around until he found some other Nighttime books and read them all. Twice.

Pros: Bite-sized stories great for reluctant readers or reading on the go. Will appeal to Goosebumps fans. Great campfire reading.

Cons: Older kids will want more substance. Tween girls may find it dumb. No mention of a monkey’s paw.

Nighttime: Too Scared to Sleep gets two-and-a-half thumbs up for some light horror/suspense goodness for the younger set from our kitchen table. (And if my daughter wasn’t so busy establishing her coolness, I suspect she would’ve given it an entire thumb up.)

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