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Weird Stories

by Mrs. J. H. Riddell

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From School Library Journal
Grade 6-8?This latest collection of nine tales from the prolific Australian author contains the satisfying blend of humor, drama, and quirkiness that made Unbearable! (1995), Unmentionable! (1993), and Unreal! (1991, all Viking) so appealing. The protagonists are mostly loners, each of whom must discover the resolution to a dilemma?sometimes assisted by bizarre twists of fate, other times by the supernatural. In the opening selection, a dying boy's mentally disabled brother manages to grant his final wish to see a snowman, a sight normally impossible in their warm Australian home. In the collection's most risque tale, "Pubic Hare," a boy exacts a gentle revenge on his classmates with the help of a dead friend whose ashes give him extraordinary powers of concentration. Other stories range from poignant to wacky, but all are united by the witty, engaging prose style that is Jennings's hallmark. YAs are certain to identify with the characters, whose struggles will strike a chord with anyone feeling alone in the world.?Mary Jo Drungil, Niles Public Library District, IL
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
Gr. 5^-8. Jennings' sixth collection of bizarre tales once again balances the clever with the creepy, the strange with the funny, the thoughtful with the unexpected. His settings and characters are ultranormal, with normal behavior--quarreling with parents, facing temptation--making the mysterious things that happen all the more striking. The stories' quirky outcomes, as when a humiliating bed-wetting problem leads to catching a criminal, are particularly intriguing. The collection will attract fans of paperback horror series, and also, thanks to an author's note, entice a few readers into writing spooky tales of their own. Susan Dove Lempke

From Kirkus Reviews
The author of Unmentionable! (1993) and other unforgettable! collections offers nine more stories in the same outrageous vein. A cat possessively sits on a strange pair of bird's eggs, only to become ``Picked Bones'' when they hatch; one child finds it easier to keep a single rabbit as a secret pet than the hundreds it soon becomes (``Too Many Rabbits''); another, embarrassed when her father plays practical jokes with ``pretend cat poo,'' neatly (and disgustingly) turns the tables (``A Mouthful''). Jennings displays his usual flair for riveting titles (``Pubic Hare'') and first lines (``The man next door buried his wife in the backyard''), and the humor, though frequently gross, is tempered by moments of tenderness; in ``Just Like Me,'' an awkward, unhappy child pens a love letter that finds the right recipient years later. These variations in tone, plus a brain-bending time-travel paradox (``Backward Step''), play off the array of puns, fecal jokes, and macabre plot twists; Jennings may shock adults, but his tales are guaranteed to delight less-practiced readers. (Short stories. 11- 13) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.



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