These Children Who Come at You with Knives, and Other Fairy Tales Jim Knipfel. Simon & Schuster, $14 paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-4391-5412-0

The title of Knipfel's offbeat collection of creepy stories makes one thing immediately clear—this, thankfully, isn't a typical collection of fairy tales. While there are the standard fantastical elements—talking animals, elves, and even a princess thrown in for good measure—these twisted stories horrify the reader, provide ample shots of humor, and, of course, offer lessons: in the title story, it's intimated that a gnome should not be ignored, for he will seek revenge. “Six-Leggity Beasties” makes it clear that people should be nice to their neighbors, because they may need help when cockroaches take over their home. The talking chicken of “The Chicken Who Was Smarter Than Everyone” may think she's smarter than everyone, but she can still be tricked. Funny, sarcastic, and disturbing, Knipfel's stories will cause readers to squirm in their seats and laugh out loud at the same time. (June)