HALF-HUMAN by Bruce Coville


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Age Range: 10 - 14
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Centaurs, mermaids, and similar fantastic creatures populate the latest collection of short stories compiled by Coville. Ten noted fantasy authors take on a theme with a natural appeal to teens struggling with their own divided nature, both child and adult, yet neither. Many of the authors zero in on the dilemma of these “betwixt and between,” with mythical halfbreeds who despise their foreign natures. Nancy Springer portrays a modern-day adolescent gorgon shamed by her changing body, while the heroine of Jude Mandell’s “Princess Dragonblood” so loathes her fiery passions that she determines to slay her dragon sire. Other stories explore instead a restless yearning to escape humanity into the wholly other: Janilee Simner’s captured selkie, aching for the sea; Tim Waggoner’s Icarus-as-carnival-freak, tormented by his inability to fly; and, most poignant, Tamora Pierce’s exploration of an apple tree’s dilemma when accidentally transformed into a human. The most striking tales are also those loosely related to traditional models: Bruce Coville’s haunting tale of the scion of a family tainted by faerie blood, and his quest to restore his ancestor’s lost humanity; and Gregory Maguire’s stunning rumination the ontological plight of the Scarecrow of Oz before his rescue by Dorothy. Strikingly similar in their wistful, poetic, and introspective moods, each story is prefaced by an equally mysterious photo collage (which unfortunately partly obscures the text of Lawrence Schimel’s sharp-edged poem). A good choice for fantasy fans, or teachers looking to supplement a mythology unit. (Short stories. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-590-95944-1
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2001


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