Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You Asked For More! More Bones: Scary Stories from Around the World retold by Arielle North Olson and Howard Schwartz

The maiden stopped by a grave that looked quite fresh. She pulled forth her shovel and began to dig, flinging clods of dirt to one side....The soldier could see that she had uncovered a small coffin.

Imagine his surprise when she lifted the lid, opened the white shroud, and tore off an arm from the corpse inside....

"If you love me, you will eat what I eat," she cried, ripping the other arm off the corpse and tossing it to the soldier.

He didn't hesitate. He took a large bite himself. Now he was even more surprised. He was eating a candy corpse, made of sugar and rice flour.

The maiden burst out laughing. "You are the only one of my suitors who did not run away. I want to marry a brave husband, and you are the one."

Readers love scary surprises, and More Bones: Scary Stories from Around the World, (Puffin, 2009) sequel to the critically acclaimed Ask the Bones: Scary Stories from Around the World (Puffin, 2002) has plenty of them. Collected from folklore sources from Iceland to Hawaii, Yiddish villages to China, all of these stories feature rising suspense and a spooky ending which concludes just before the really scary event promises to happen. For example, "The Gruesome Test," the Japanese tale quoted above seems to be ending on a bit of grisly irony, but the real climax is even more surprising and scary:

You would think the soldier would laugh, too. The maiden was not a monster, after all. But he glowered at her. "Only candy?" he said. "I thought you were giving me much more." He grabbed her shovel and began to dig up a real grave.

This time it was the maiden who ran away screaming.

These stories don't feature the usual suspects--the standard sheeted ghosts, black-clad vampires, or hairy werewolves. People everywhere love scary stories, and their fertile imaginations come up with quite a unique collection of spooky characters. We meet the Norwegian draug, the twisted spirits of drowned seamen who lure fishermen to their death by drowning, a wicked witch of the woods who shape-changes into an irresistibly beautiful woman, a pretty Chinese girl whose night secret is discovered by her unfortunate bridegroom when he wakens to find her sharpening her teeth on a piece of wood, a vengeful spirit which guards a treasure deep within the Alhambra in Spain, and a headless horse ridden by a headless horseman through the Irish night.

For readers who have already read and loved Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 25th Anniversary Edition: Collected from American Folklore, these two volumes are worthy additions to that popular shelf of genuinely spooky and spookily genuine folk tales.

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  • Wow, judging by the title I would think this book would scare most kids that age. I remember the Goosebumps books. Ok I know this one isn't within the same genre but it's a good sci-fi/fantasy book for kids that I would recommend:

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:28 AM  

  • Ages 9 or 10 to 14 or 15--that's not too young for obviously fantastical scary characters, I think.

    It's the realistic scary stories, the murderer who calls the babysitter from somewhere inside the house--now THAT"S scary!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:36 PM  

  • I have had about 5 students read this book since they purchased it at the book fair this year. They are way into it and have a lot to say about them. They are fifth graders and I think these books are well fit for them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:18 PM  

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