The sixth volume in the Guys Read “Library of Great Reading” offers 10 stories to freak you out, “so scary you’d pee in your pants.”
“It’s just a bunch of stories. What could be so terrifying about that?” But then, what about the footless ghost in Dav Pilkey’s “My Ghost Story?” Or the fowler who chopped up Marleenken’s sisters in “The Blue-Bearded Bird-Man,” Adam Gidwitz’s spin on the classic Perrault tale? And what about such seemingly sensible advice as, “It is never, never, never, never, never okay to push your brother down a creepy, old, possibly bottomless well,” in Kelly Barnhill’s “Don’t Eat the Baby”? The stories are well-chosen and, unlike too many collections, consistently terrific, every story indeed scary and full of surprises. Strong leads serve many stories well, pulling readers in, perhaps against their own apprehensions. “Manifest,” by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown begins, “If I’d known what suffering Thaddeus Rolf would bring me, I’d have put an end to my life right then. Instead, I took his,” and “I hear my brother’s terrified screams a block away,” opens Michael Buckley’s “Mr. Shocky.” One contribution, by Rita Williams-Garcia, was not available for review.
Scieszka’s mission to provide quality books for boys succeeds again, though, of course, girls will be just as horrified as the boys. (Anthology. 9-12)