Brief bios best for bookish horror fans.

Famous horror writers step out from the shadows and into the moonlight.

After ruminating on why readers gravitate toward horror, Gigliotti introduces this collection’s 14 profiled authors by way of their fears. Stephen King used to be afraid of the dark, while Edgar Allan Poe and Shirley Jackson’s fears were of the internal sort. Whatever the source of their terrors, each writer draws “on a dark part of their hearts for inspiration.” The short biographies are arranged chronologically from Mary Shelley to Joe Hill. Entries detail personal lives, some facts about their works, and—for the dead—enduring legacies. Throughout, Gigliotti’s personal and engaging style adds a sense of suspense and intrigue to each author. Sleek design, haunted-forest motifs, and black-and-white portraits—framed with subtle nods to best-known works—further add to the ambience. While the creators’ fame is indisputable, the Whiteness and, to a lesser extent, maleness of the canon as Gigliotti construes it is glaringly evident. Moreover, the elision of Clive Barker’s sexuality—despite mentions of other authors’ love lives—is not only a missed opportunity, but erasure. Gigliotti’s contemporary lens helps contextualize the more historical entries, including mentions of any movie adaptations younger readers may be likely to know. Overall, the collection skews toward writing for adults (though a few notable exceptions write across age categories). The lack of backmatter, sources, or even a conclusion makes for an abrupt ending.

Brief bios best for bookish horror fans. (Collective biography. 10-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22278-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021


From the They Did What? series

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015


Full of laughter and sentiment, this is a nudge for readers to dare to try new things.

A 1989 summer trip to Europe changes Caldecott Medal winner Santat’s life in this graphic memoir.

Young Dan hasn’t experienced much beyond the small Southern California town he grew up in. He stays out of trouble, helps his parents, and tries to go unnoticed in middle school. That plan gets thwarted when he is made to recite poetry at a school assembly and is humiliated by his peers. When eighth grade is over and his parents send him on a three-week study abroad program, Dan isn’t excited at first. He’s traveling with girls from school whom he has awkward relationships with, his camera breaks, and he feels completely out of place. But with the help of some new friends, a crush, and an encouraging teacher, Dan begins to appreciate and enjoy the journey. Through experiences like his first taste of Fanta, first time hearing French rap, and first time getting lost on his own in a foreign country in the middle of the night, he finally begins to feel comfortable just being himself and embracing the unexpected. This entertaining graphic memoir is a relatable story of self-discovery. Flashbacks to awkward memories are presented in tones of blue that contrast with the full-color artwork through which Santat creates the perfect balance of humor and poignancy. The author’s note and photos offer readers more fun glimpses into his pivotal adventure.

Full of laughter and sentiment, this is a nudge for readers to dare to try new things. (Graphic memoir. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85104-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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