Thursday, October 1, 2015

Rich, Susan. Half-Minute Horrors. Harper, 2009. Grades 4-8

America’s leading children’s authors and illustrators come together to share their own thirty second horror stories in just 3 pages or less. Authors and illustrators such as Erin Hunter, James Patterson, Neil Gaiman, Brian Selznick, and Dan Gutman provide eerie tales through a variety of means, including comics, scary art, haikus, short vivid stories, and more. These bone-chilling episodes are depicted through original illustrations and rich descriptive language but often end in the middle of hair-raising action, leaving a lot to the imagination of the reader. In one bewildering comic by R Sala, a boy is kidnapped by an unnerving man in a painting at the doctor’s office: “…That’s when he noticed the old man’s hands. They were bony and scaly and had long pointed nails.” Illustrations paired with this text show the long fingers reaching out from the painting grabbing the wide-eyed boy and end with the mother screaming: “And her screams could be heard all the way down the street.” Although most stories are all written or illustrated in a page or two, each author has their own unique style. Jon Klassen, for example, slyly tells a disturbing tale of a murdered girl’s body being buried in multiple places, but does so in a one page black and white illustration of a house with a numbered list of what's in the ground, leaving the reader to figure out the creepy synopsis by analyzing the text and drawing. Although each of these stories are not equally spooky, the diverse mix is sure to interest elementary and middle school children, especially reluctant readers who don’t like long chapter books. Readers unacquainted with horror stories may also find that the blend of illustration and text are the perfect vehicle to explore the macabre sides of their favorite authors. Ultimately, through a variety of sinister drawings, descriptive imagery, and clever comics, Half Minute Horrors contains a collection of artfully crafted horror stories for children that also work as the perfect Halloween read aloud (by campfire or flashlight, of course).

Also, in keeping with the spooky nature of this children's book, check out this zomibie-fied photo of me! With the help of Michelle Bober, Marketing Associate at Naperville Public Library, I was turned into a Zombie who loves to read! This was created to promote the teen Summer Reading Program in 2014.

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