“[An] often-entertaining look at fears and phobias.”
School Library Journal
“Reluctant readers, especially, will find Murphy's chatty, lighthearted approach appealing, enjoyable and informative.”
“…overall this book gives practical information about real concerns. If readers' pants aren't scared off, they may laugh them off instead.”
“Phobiaphilia may not be a condition recognized by the APA, but every librarian can diagnose a patron who loves to be scared. Here's the treatment.”
What do sharks, bears, earthquakes, airplane crashes, high places, the dark, and the unknown have in common? All make us afraid and all are included in this entertaining and informative book for young readers. In six chapters, the author presents almost everything that may terrify someone. The introduction explains that while not everyone has the same fears, all fears may be very real and may be overcome. Each chapter explains the fear and the actual reality of the fear. For example, while many avoid the ocean in fear of shark attacks, people are much more likely to die of the poisoning, falling, or drowning. Each chapter includes black and white photos, cartoons, fact charts, and lists of ways to avoid or overcome the fear. While the information is accurate and thorough, it is presented in a humorous way so the book itself is not frightening. A list of sources is provided and an index makes it easy to read about one's own particular fear. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson
Children's Literature - Shirley Nelson
Gr 4–6—A kid's world can sometimes be a scary place, from real-life terrors like deadly diseases to weird stuff like ghosts and monsters. But how many are really worth worrying about? This often-entertaining look at fears and phobias explores these creepy concepts. Each chapter focuses on a specific fear-provoking topic such as natural disasters, animal attacks, or accidents like ship and plane wrecks. The author provides scientific explanations for such worrisome phenomena as lightning and earthquakes and includes statistical details that point out the odds of actually experiencing any of the disasters. There is a particularly interesting section on odds and probabilities and how the human mind plays tricks with them to make comparatively rare occurrences seem more frequent. The writing style is breezy and conversational. Commonsense advice is mixed with light, sometimes sarcastic commentary. The author often includes personal accounts such as his unwise decision to eat raw chicken at a Japanese restaurant. Many of the chapters have a high gross-out quotient, which will certainly please the target audience. The illustrations are an intriguing mixture of photos-some dramatically staged-and amusing cartoon drawings. Unfortunately, the final chapter, "The Beyond," is not as well done as the rest of the book. Religious beliefs about life after death are overgeneralized and not always accurate. Murphy's reference to a supposed Native American belief in a Happy Hunting Ground is particularly egregious. In addition, some of the quotations used to introduce chapters cite adult works that are not appropriate for the intended audience of this title, from Stephen King's It (Penguin, 1986) to John Marshall's Social Phobia: From Shyness to Stage Fright (Basic Books, 1994).—Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL
Murphy, the author of
Why Is Snot Green? (2009), tackles another high-interest subject in this entertaining look at fears and phobias.
In brief chapters, abundantly illustrated with amusing cartoons and photographs, the author explores common fears shared by people from all walks of life: wild animals, snakes and insects, natural disasters, dentists and doctors, darkness, death, drowning, heights, ghosts, monsters in closets and more. He explains the differences between innate and learned fears and between fears and phobias, also discussing their biological and psychological dimensions. After describing a particular fear, he follows with a discussion of how grounded in reality that fear is and explains the likelihood of that fear becoming a reality. "The odds of dying in a sandstorm or snowstorm are, for most people, very low... [They] are dangerous, but fairly predictable." As in his other books, Murphy includes enough gross details to keep readers engaged (some foodborne microorganisms "make us vomit and poo explosively") but always stays centered on science ("
E. coli... is usually a harmless bacterium").
Reluctant readers, especially, will find Murphy's chatty, lighthearted approach appealing, enjoyable and informative. (source notes, index)