cover image Hide and Don’t Seek: And Other Very Scary Stories

Hide and Don’t Seek: And Other Very Scary Stories

Anica Mrose Rissi, illus. by Carolina Godina. Quill Tree, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-06-302695-7

In this collection of 20 brief offerings that nod affectionately to scary-story tropes, Rissi (Nobody Knows but You) puts an enjoyably spooky spin on mundane and traditionally pleasurable childhood experiences, while occasional art by Godina maintains the eerie atmosphere. Using straightforward prose and employing a mix of narrative forms—letters home, verse, text messages, a dog’s point of view, and a play, among others—Rissi turns such topics as a friendly game of hide-and-seek between siblings (“Hide and Don’t Seek”), a summer camp session (“Truly Delicious”), a long-kept confidence (“The Secret”), and a Christmas gift (“Beatrice”) toward the anxious and uncertain. “The Best Teacher at Pleasant Hill Oak Elementary,” meanwhile, provides a refreshing twist on the “unusual teacher” idea. Though some stories succeed better than others, and several end abruptly, the sheer variety of creepy concepts, unsettling moments interspersed with humor, and gotcha twists will appeal to younger middle grade readers who are ready for a gateway into horror fiction—and a book to read around the campfire. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Aug.)