Ask the Bones: Scary Stories from Around the World

Howard Schwartz, Author, Arielle N. Olson, Author, Arielle North Olson, Retold by Viking Children's Books $16.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-670-87581-8
Readers looking to be scared (but not too scared) will find chills aplenty in this collection of 22 smoothly told folktales from many cultures. The volume opens with several stories in which protagonists (almost always male) witness supernatural horrors--a Japanese student's drawings of cats save him from a ravaging goblin rat; a Charleston boy's employer is meted out gruesome but just deserts after imprisoning a mermaid in a bottle. The tone darkens as the volume progresses, with the innocent as well as the guilty coming to grisly ends. Picture book author Olson (Hurry Home, Grandma!) and folklorist Schwartz (Next Year in Jerusalem) don't exploit the blood and gore of the horror genre; their stories usually end just before the carnage begins, leaving readers with a thrill of horribly delicious anticipation. Rather than striving to impart the different flavors of their original sources, the authors favor a deceptively casual voice throughout, one that would lend itself to a storytelling session around a campfire or after lights out. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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