VOYA - Paula Brehm-Heeger
Ghosts, supernatural fried pudding, and troll-like "Pukwudgies" are a few of the elements that appear in Scieszka's new addition to the Guys Read Library of Great Reading (Guys Read: Funny Business [VOYA February 2011] was released in 2010 by Walden Pond). Action and unexplained phenomena are major players in these ten tales, which emphasize the "short" in short story. The illustrated "Pudding" by Jarrett J. Krosoczka does not break a dozen pages. Several of the stories have an undercurrent of humor. With the exception of Anthony Horowitz's "The Double Eagle Has Landed," however, about an obtuse private detective, comedy plays second fiddle to suspense. Walter Dean Myers provides the most unexpected story in the collection with the realistic "Pirate," about a young Somalian teen involved in a kidnapping. The authors in this collection are among the best. The table of contents reads like a best-seller list or literary award reception program and includes James Patterson, M. T. Anderson, and Margaret Peterson Haddix, to name a few. The result is a selection of high-interest, fast-paced stories intended for guys (although girls will enjoy these, too) on the young side of "young adult." Scary parts are exciting but tame enough to use with even the youngest middle school students. A few stories, particularly Matt De La Pena's "Believing in Brooklyn" and "The Snake Mafia" by Gennifer Choldenko, may intrigue older middle schoolers, particularly students struggling with reading skills. Overall, this is an important purchase for school and public libraries. Reviewer: Paula Brehm-Heeger
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
Jon Scieszka has done much to promote reading among boys, including this second volume in the "Guys Read Library of Great Reading" series. Here he has brought together some of the best names in children's and YA literature (e.g., James Patterson, Margaret Peterson Haddix, M.T. Anderson, Anthony Horowitz) to write short stories with a scary or mysterious flavor. With the exception of one graphic short story, the entries are about twenty to thirty pages long, each preceded by an evocative full-page black and white drawing. Very brief author bios follow the collection. Stories are moderately engaging, but not very scary; the most memorable tale is perhaps Walter Dean Myers' "Pirate" which tells of a ship hijacking from a fourteen-year old Somali boy's point of view. It is very sobering to read about how the pillage and pollution of traditional Somali fishing grounds has driven the people to dangerous and often violent acts of piracy. There are other scattered lessons to be drawn from stories, about charity towards others for example, but largely these are for entertainment, which is, after all, a powerful hook to engage emerging readers. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
This second collection in the Guys Read series packs a dizzying punch.
Scieszka has gathered 10 thrilling stories from stellar writers. There are ghost stories, a deeply touching tale of a wish-granting machine and one about monsters that live in storm drains. "Pirate," by Walter Dean Myers, is extraordinary and so unmatched in content that it's an anomaly here. His tale diverges from the creepy hijinks of the others, diving into chillingly dark waters. Abdullah comes from long line of Somali fishermen. The big foreign ships have depleted the fish, and the waters have been polluted by their oil spills. In spare, precise language, Abdullah describes how he and his family have decided to fight back. Armed with AK-47s, Abdullah and a few others hijack a yacht. The confusion and violence that ensues, as Abdullah is charged with guarding a teenage girl, is heartbreaking, terrifying and unshakable. More on par with the rest of the collection, Patrick Carman's "Ghost Vision" delves into the supernatural. Kyle discovers a stack of 1970s comics and orders a pair of glasses from an ad in the back that will allow him to see ghosts. They arrive with a warning never put them on outside his room—there are some things you just don't want to see. Add stories by M.T. Anderson, Matt de la Peña, Jennifer Choldenko and others for a solid collection.
This anthology is brimming with choice stuff for guys who appreciate the uncanny, the uncouth and the un-put-down-able.(Short stories. 9-13)