Daily Archives: January 18, 2010

Half-Minute Horrors

By now I’m hoping all of you have learned that there are stories to read at bedtime and then there are stories to


Apparently, I am still learning this important life lesson because last night, as I settled into my bed in my cosy flannel pjs, I pulled out Half-Minute Horrors for a little bit of pre-snooze browsing. Um. Bad idea.

Very, very bad.

Doesn’t the cover look a little bit funny? Kinda cute even? Those tiny little toothy-grinned monsters dressed up like people aren’t really scary. Well, let me tell you, don’t be fooled folks. The stories inside are truly horrible. Yes indeed, most deservingly labelled as “horrors.”

Inside this short but dangerous book, you will find 30-second tales to curdle your blood by such luminaries as Lemony Snicket, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Holly Black, Libba Bray, Kennth Oppel, Jack Gantos, John Scieszka, Joyce Carol Oates, Gregory Maguire and so many more impressive names.

That is, if you can make it past Mr. Lemony Snicket’s story, which opens the collection. So, so spooky. If you want to (if you dare),  you can read that story at the Half-Minute Horrors website, by selecting “Get a Glimpse.” If you are a teacher of students who are not easily terrified, then I’m sure many of them would love to write their own half-minute horrors and submit them to be included on this website.

I think this is a really impressive and super fun little book for fans of all-things freaky. The quality of the tales is consistently high. I wouldn’t say that there are any duds. You’ll certainly think about how it is possible to create intense mood in even a very short piece of writing. My top contributions are: Jon Klassen’s “The Legend of Alexandra & Rose,” Margaret Atwood’s Coraline-esque “The Creeping Hand,” and Angela Johnson’s “Nanny.” The book is one of The Horn Book’s starred titles in January / February.

Half-Minute Horrors is edited by Susan Rich and published by Harper Collins.