cover image Don't Read This! and Other Stories

Don't Read This! and Other Stories

Margaret Mahy. Boyds Mills Press, $15.95 (180pp) ISBN 978-1-886910-22-5

Readers with a taste for the eerie should ignore the advice proffered in this book's title. Most of these 11 entries boast suspenseful, usually unpredictable plots and believable characterizations despite the sometimes otherworldly scenarios depicted; taken from 11 different countries, the stories also feature smooth translations. Among the standouts is the title entry, by Italian Robert Piumini, in which the reader, warned repeatedly by the story itself (""Do not read me. Reading me brings bad luck""), is held accountable for three disasters. In Mahy's ""Fingers on the Back of the Neck"" (from Australia), a boy kills his great-grandmother, who had an annoying habit of stroking his neck, but her arthritic, ""knobbly"" fingers return to continue that practice forevermore. Bjarne Reuters (Denmark) and Uri Orlev (Israel) also contribute memorable pieces. Illustrated with black-and-white drawings. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)