I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Guys Read: Terrifying Tales by Jon Scieszka
Narrator: Guys Read Library Of Great Reading
Published by HarperCollins on September 1st 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Humorous Stories, Short Stories
Buy on Amazon
Be afraid, be very afraid of Terrifying Tales, the sixth volume in the Guys Read Library of Great Reading.
Eleven masters of suspense—Kelly Barnhill, Michael Buckley, Adam Gidwitz, Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown, Claire Legrand, Nikki Loftin, Daniel José Older, Dav Pilkey, R.L. Stine, and Rita Williams-Garcia—have come together to bring you a bone-chilling collection of original ghost stories with illustrations by Gris Grimly, perfect for sharing around the campfire, reading under the covers with a flashlight, and scaring your friends’ pants off.
Compiled and edited by kid-lit madman Jon Scieszka, Guys Read: Terrifying Tales is a creepy-fun read (if you’re brave enough, that is).
Guys Read: Terrifying Tales is a part of the Guys Read short story anthologies. These anthologies are aimed at engaging middle grade boys into reading. However, I’ll say that in all honesty girls will like these stories too. I think this is like the second of the series that I’ve read. I find myself looking forward to these anthologies and the chance to try both new authors and to read old favorites. In all, this is a worthy addition to the series and I can’t wait to see what is next.
Mr. Shocky by Michael Buckley
The opening story in Guys Read: Terrifying Tales is Mr. Shocky by Michael Buckley. Narrated by a boy named Tyler, Mr. Shocky is about what happens when Tyler’s imaginary friend Mr. Shocky won’t let go. You see, Tyler thought he had outgrown Mr Shocky. You see, Tyler has a little brother named Dylan. It turns out Dylan is now seeing Mr. Shocky and is relaying the message that Mr. Shocky is pissed at Tyler abandoning him. And well, the story just goes from there. Mr. Shocky by Michael Buckley is an okay opening story. I wouldn’t say it’s the best, but I can get the bigger appeal. I guess I just am comparing it to the Disney Channel Original Movie “Don’t Look Under The Bed” and coming up a little short (see what I did there!).
Licorice Needles by Nikki Loftin
Licorice Needles by Nikki Loftin is a story about a boy named Jeremiah. Jeremiah isn’t doing very well in reading, so his mom has arranged it so that he reads to an old woman named Mrs. Carlson. The arrangement is free which appeals to Jeremiah’s mom because she would have to spend all his birthday money on tutors otherwise. Jeremiah eats this candy called licorice needles while he is over there. At first, he’s okay with the reading, but then he notices that in addition to the book she’s having him read – she makes him read a random snippet of something and then a handwritten short poem.
After the poem, something bad usually happens the next day. Jeremiah is concerned with who the next victim will be and how he’ll get out of the reading. Well, this story makes old people seem kind of scary. I will say Mrs. Carlson is characterized as being evil but also as being blind. The word “crazy” is used several times which I guess is ableist. In all, a good story concept, but I am not sure how to feel about what I’m perceiving as isms coming across.
The Blue-Bearded Bird-Man by Adam Gidwitz
I really enjoyed Adam Gidwitz’s contribution to Guys Read: Terrifying Tales. The narrator of the story is similar to one one from his Grim books or whatever their called. The fourth wall is often broken and I was actually okay with this. Anyways, the story The Blue-Bearded Bird-Man is a retelling of Blue Beard. It’s totally scary. Six siblings live in the woods – three sisters and three brothers. The only other person who lives in the woods is a fowler.
One day the fowler steals one of the sisters, the oldest one, marries her and tells her she must keep her blue egg clean and not enter a certain room of the house. Of course, we can guess what happens. Anyways, he makes his way to the youngest sister, Marleenken who is plain but she’s the bravest and cleverest of the siblings. Basically this story is well paced, it’s well written, and it’s just plain entertaining. Gidwitz always makes for some excellent reading.
Don’t Eat The Baby by Kelly Barnhill
Kelly Barnhill’s Don’t Eat The Baby is a deliciously creepy addition to Guys Read: Terrifying Tales. This story stars Arne. Arne is a boy scout who lives in a subdivision built on Superfund land. There’s a fenced area behind the subdivision that is so polluted that no houses are built on it and he’s not technically allowed to go into the area. That does not stop Arne and his best friend, Jamal. Jamal has four brothers and Arne is jealous.
So, he goes to a well on the land and drops in a rock with his wish written on it – for a younger brother. Well, you know that phrase be careful what you wish for? That comes back to haunt Arne in spades, as he does end up with a brother who is HUNGRY. I won’t give anything away, but Don’t Eat The Baby is sufficiently scary and a fitting short story for inclusion in this anthology. I quite enjoyed it, in a twisted sort of way.
My Ghost Story by Dav Pilkey
Dav Pilkey’s My Ghost Story is a graphic novel type short story. It’s about a boy who is obsessed with monsters and so decorates his room with monsters that glow in the dark. During the daytime, this seems like a great idea. However, night is a whole other story. Ultimately, My Ghost Story is a funny, light hearted addition to Guys Read: Terrifying Tales. I have nothing but positivity for it.
Marcos at the River by Daniel Jose Older
Marcos at the River by Daniel Jose Older is a short story set in New York City. It’s clearly about this boy named Marcos. There are these water spirits that seem to surround him. The City is about to be evacuated due to flooding. However, Marcos and his Abuela have not yet left the City. Also, Marcos is grieving the loss of his father, who was shot to death. Anyways, the water spirits are really starting to get to Marcos and so, he must finally confront his inner demons in order to send the spirits back to where they belong. I wouldn’t say that Marcos at the River is terrifying so much as it is moving. It’s very well written and certainly has a pathos that makes me interested in reading more from Older.
Manifest by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown
Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown team up again to write and illustrate the short story, Manifest. This story is set during the era of indentured servitude. We begin the story with an unnamed narrator who works at a harbor inn. A young man named Rolf comes into the inn, Rolf being full of promise and leaving for the New World and what the narrator believes is a loving uncle. The narrator, jealous, kills Rolf, steals his identity and goes aboard the ship. Alas, killing Rolf brings about a curse with it. I won’t tell you how the curse manifests itself, but I will say that the narrator gets his just desserts.
Disappear! by RL Stine
Of course, it would be totally inappropriate to have a middle grade horror anthology without including something from RL Stine. Disappear! is RL Stine’s contribution to Guys Read: Terrifying Tales. It is about a young magician named Mark Martindale. I mean magician in the sense that he performs parlor tricks like slights of hands and pulling quarters from ears. Anyways, Mark wants to go to a magic show but is forced to bring his annoying little brother with him. At the magic show, a trick is performed where people actually disappear. I mean, they seriously do not come back. After the show, Mark goes to meet the magician and his brother ends up being disappeared. Disappear! is a clever, funny story and I think it shows that RL Stine is at his best when he’s writing for middle schoolers.
The Mandigore by Claire Legrand
Guys Read: Terrifying Tales ends with The Mandigore by Claire Legrand. This story is about a boy named Clark whose grandmother cautions him against going to the library because something sinister lurks there. You see, his aunt Mara disappeared when she was Clark’s age. However, Clark has a research paper to finish and his friend Nina to meet. Both Clark and Nina are super fans of this tv show called Noctiluna which plays a pretty important role in this story. Anyways, they’re at the library and Clark has got some bad feelings about the librarian Mr. Dunn. The story features creepy children singing, an actual monster and much more. I am happy to say that The Mandigore is a perfect story to close out the anthology.
Other reviews of Guys Read: Terrifying Tales edited by Jon Scieszka:
- Our Thoughts Precisely – “a very interesting, and at times a spooky collection of stories“
- Jenn’s Bookshelves – “It’s not too scary, but a fun way to get a sample of a bunch of great authors“