Skip to main content

Half-Minute Horrors, edited by Susan Rich, 131pp. RL 4


Half-Minute Horrors, edited by Susan Rich, is a compilation of over 70 snippets of creepy, gruesome, ghoulish, spine tingling fun with a website the encourages readers to submit their scary stories. I wish I could list every contributor here, but it would take up the whole review. Authors and illustrators are all listed on the back of the jacket and in the brilliant index that lists page numbers for both authors and themes. Everything from animals, basements, beds (under and around) and betrayal to zombies, water, summer camp and siblings has an entry. Best of all, this book is published in partnership with First Book, an organization that provides new books to children in need, addressing one of the most important factors affecting literacy: access to books.

Besides the short stories, including Jenny Nimmo's two sentence entry, "Soup," there are poems, haikus (or "Horroku," as Katherine Applegate titles it) and cartoons. Contributing authors and illustrators include award winning children's literature greats, such as Jerry Spinnelli, MT Anderson, Jon Scieszka and Gail Carson Levine and illustrators like Brian Selznick, Lemony Snicket, Lane Smith Cason Ellis, Brett Helquist, Vladimir Radunsky, Adam Rex and, my favorite among favorites, the three panel cartoon, "The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, as novel as told by Lisa Brown in Fewer than 30 Seconds," which had me laughing out loud. Contributing writers from the world of adult literature, some of whom have crossed over into kid lit once or twice before, include Neil Gaiman, James Patterson, Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Francine Prose, Ayelet Waldman and Michael Connelley.

As the title suggests, there are indeed horrific acts and imagery that occur in this book and it obviously is not for the younger, more easily upset readers. Again and again, I felt a bit like I was re-reading the opening to Neil Gaiman's magnificent Newbery winner, The Graveyard Book in which a family is murdered by a knife wielding, supernatural being. Several of the stories have children as the protagonists, which by nature makes them children in peril. However, one of my favorite stories by Kenneth Oppel, author of the wonderful series of books about Shade, the Silverwing bat, is titled, "In Hiding," and is told from the perspective of a son and his father who are waiting silently in a tight, dark space. Are they waiting for a menace to leave without finding them or are they the menace? There are more than a few stories in the collection that make you go back and read them again, trying to unravel the mystery of the tale. Fortunately, it only takes a minute or two to do this!

For parents who would like to preview some of the book, the first 19 pages can be read on the website. You will be treated to stories by Lemony Snicket, Jerry Spinelli and Neil Gaiman as well as the brilliant, one page picture/story by Jon Klassen titled, "The Legend of Alexandra and Rose." The "legend" of the title refers to the map legend in the lower left hand corner of the picture which, with its numbers marking spots on the illustration, tells the story of the sisters and their fight for the best bedroom....

Comments

Peaceful Reader said…
This looks perfect for my students who love a good scare.

Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started books4yourkids.com in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …