Thirteen short stories to creep out kids.
Fans of Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark looking for a modern spin will find exactly what they want in this offering. Typical trials and tribulations in children’s lives are twisted toward the uncanny, as when a popcorn kernel lodged between Jamie’s teeth turns into a mouthful of twisted fangs with minds of their own. Or when a paper airplane accidentally cuts a hole in reality. Hughes’moody black-and-white illustrations highlight disturbing moments in each story, drawing easy parallels to Stephen Gammell’s nightmare-inducing artwork that accompanies Alvin Schwartz’s classic. Each story is between 10 and 20 pages, making the volume easy to put down at bedtime or pick up in the light of day, though this brevity means that characterization and emotional depth are sacrificed in exchange for action and chills. None of the characters are explicitly racialized, implying the white default, and all of the scenarios feel firmly and nondescriptly middle-class. Readers will get an additional thrill when they realize that many of these stories don’t have endings, and they may find themselves looking askance at the next stray cat or grumpy bus driver.
A good choice for middle-grade readers looking for something smart and scary. (Horror. 8-13)