Sometimes readers get into a rut, reading the same type of story or books by the same or similar authors. While that is certainly not bad, Asher has created a book to introduce readers to various genres; realistic fiction, adventure, humor, science fiction, and the like, and to entice kids by offering a short story to illustrate the genre. Each story is followed by an interview with the author to better understand how the story was crafted and what inspired the writer. The stories are delightful. Also helpful is a list of each author's works, so kids can try out a few more books based on the genre or authors they liked. A great choice for kids, teachers and librarians.
Gr 5-8Asher has taken one dozen stories, each representative of a specific genre, and has used them as vehicles to explain the varieties of fiction. Preceding each tale is a clear description of the type of story it illustrates. The succinct explanations are readily understandable and specific so as to avoid confusion. Each selection is followed by some biographical information, a brief author interview, and a small black-and-white photo. The authors either explain what was being attempted in each tale, the story's background, or their attitudes toward it or its genre. Youngsters will learn about the process of fiction writing and will understand that, although a vivid imagination is at the core, careful research often precedes the creative process. The stories are all brief, and for some this is a disadvantage. For example, the resolution of Elaine Marie Alphin's "A Time to Stand Up" is too abrupt and greater character development is needed in Gary L. Blackwood's "Who Waxed Mad Max?" But these are minor problems. Many of the selections are jewels, such as Angela Johnson's "Flying Away," Marie G. Lee's "An Education," and Carol Kendall and Yao-wen Li's "A Sheepish Answer," a retelling of a folktale. Marion Dane Bauer's horror story, "The Wall," builds to a crescendo and leaves readers wondering. This is a fine book, and its unique concept makes it a valuable addition to library collections.Renee Steinberg, Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ