Back of Beyond: Stories of the Supernatural

Overview

In one startling moment, ordinary people may catch a glimpse of a world they never knew existed. The expected happens to everyone, just as it happens to the characters in this spine-tingling collection of stories that deal with the unexplainable.

A collection of twelve otherworldly stories which blend reality and unreality.

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Overview

In one startling moment, ordinary people may catch a glimpse of a world they never knew existed. The expected happens to everyone, just as it happens to the characters in this spine-tingling collection of stories that deal with the unexplainable.

A collection of twelve otherworldly stories which blend reality and unreality.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Alison Kastner
Houses that disappear, disembodied voices, precognition; these are the subjects in this collection of short stories from the author of Pick-Up Sticks (McElderry, 1992). But anyone looking for cheap horror thrills will be disappointed. What the author does give us is a collection of subtle stories that reflect the mysterious quality of life. In Pinch, Maia keeps her midwife mother company one evening in the home of a client. The house, more like a mansion, is filled with visual puns-a chair in the shape of an iron hand, covered by a velvet glove; a footstool shaped like a foot. Maia is shown into the "media center" to wait for her mother. It is a teen's dream come true, with a TV screen as large as a wall, every movie ever produced, a well-stocked refrigerator, and, outside, a beautiful pool with underground windows. Some weeks later, Maia tries to show a friend the house, but it no longer exists. Oddly enough, a security guard discussing the construction taking place on the site where the house stood describes the very house in which Maia spent the night. These are not just quick-read, twilight zone stories though: Ellis looks at the lives of young people with a wry sense of humor that will be appreciated by teens. In Tunnel, a sixteen-year-old babysitter describes his job skills to an imaginary employer: "Well, sir, I spent one summer playing with Barbie dolls and practicing making my body into a K." In these stories, icons of American culture ground people, or act as charms. In Potato, the sight of a Mr. Potato Head brings a cult-indoctrinated boy back to his family. Ellis has an excellent ear for the rhythm of speech, and her descriptive writing is lovely. In Happen, a girl discovers a secluded stream: "The banks were covered in moss, and they curved over into the stream like blankets tucked into a bed." With her matter-of-fact descriptions of faeries and changelings, selkies, and secret gardens, one could almost begin to believe that the suburbs have magic in them. This is a title that might languish on the shelves without a librarian who is willing to promote it. And that would be a shame because this is a book worth reading. VOYA Codes: 5Q 3P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10--Ordinary young people go about their everyday lives...until something extraordinary happens. The fine line between reality and otherworldliness is delicately and expertly walked in these chilling selections. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
Ellis (Out of the Blue, 1995, etc.) offers middle-schoolers more than a chill or two in her collection of short stories, featuring a variety of teenage narrators.

In "Tunnel," Ken, 16, learns that there are experiences even more uncomfortable than playing Barbies when he babysits a little girl and nearly loses her to a circle of vengeful sprites who live in an abandoned sewer pipe. The familiar classroom setting turns sinister in "Knife," where urban survivor Curtis confronts the new kid, who is possessed by the spirit of a seal pup injured by Curtis years before. The Internet plays a role in the surprisingly unsettling "Net," about Aidan, who is saved by a tantalizing bit of E-mail from riding in a car that is crushed on the road. A slip of temporal mechanics proves serendipitous for young Maia and her mother, a midwife, in the amusing "Pinch." Most memorable of all the offerings is "Potato," where Selina recounts the horror of losing a brother to a religious cult, and the subsequent joy at their reunion. All the stories feature Ellis's taut and restrained prose, and most are as intriguing and finished as her longer works.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689814846
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/1997
  • Edition description: 1st U.S. Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Ellis

Award-winning author Sarah Ellis grew up in a family that loved to share stories and read books. Passions that lead her to become a children's librarian and eventually to start writing books herself. Ellis's awards include the Governor General's Award, the Mr. Christie's Book Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award. She lives in Vancouver, B.C.

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