There are some who feel that Mercer Mayer’s 1968 classic There’s a Nightmare in My Closet is a pretender to the Maurice Sendak Where the Wild Things Are throne. They feel that both in style and substance Closet is a bit of a rip off. I on the other hand, feel that that is a weak argument offered up by, as the kids call them these days, haters. There’s a Nightmare in My Closet is a very simple and quick read, which is one of the reasons I like it. The book tells the tale a young boy who every night before going to sleep, grabs his helmet and popgun to check that the closet door is shut and then hops into bed. It turns out there is indeed a Nightmare in his closet, but it is nothing you would expect. It seems just like ninjas and bears, nightmares are more afraid of you then you are of them.
The boy turns out to be a little bit of a jerk and the Nightmare a little bit of a wimp, but this delicious role reversal is what makes this tale work. On a childhood development level, Closet assists parents with the pre-bed time talk that every one of us will have at least once, the bogeyman discussion. By making the monster silly the author helps to diffuse the after dark panic attack. Now if we could only tackle the real nightmare in The Mommy’s closet, the amount of clothes.