Holidays are a huge time for new books to hit the shelves. Each holiday has a built in audience already in the mood for stories pertaining to ghosts and ghouls, Santa, religious beliefs, love, leprechauns, turkeys, and so on. And just before Halloween straight through Valentine's Day the shelves are packed with new releases. So expect to see some reviews today and in the coming months that deal with holiday oriented books.
"Twelve Terrible Things"
By Marty Kelley
For ages 4 – 8
This picture book is light on words and heavy on visual storytelling. The images range from a trip to the dentist's office to peer pressure. The oft maligned monster under the bed makes and appearance as well. Unfortunately, as humorous as the illustrations are to adults it begs the question — do we really need to tell our children that a trip to the dentist is a terrible thing? Hasn't that cliché been hammered into the ground by now. Heck, most pediatric dentists have video games in the waiting room now and offer t-shirts to first time patients.
Clowns. Really? The comedians of the circus don't need any more bad press. Kelley's over-the-top birthday clown may actually cause children who are not afraid of clowns to develop the phobia. Enough already.
While the first person watercolor illustrations are enticing and the dark humor works for adults who can look back on their childhood fears and laugh, "Twelve Terrible Things" does little to help children overcome these fears. It may actually instill a few new ones.
"School of Fear"
By Gitty Daneshvari
For ages 8 – 12
When one's fears becoem a real hindrance and their parents have tried every alternative it is time to consider one last option — The School of Fear. The cover gives the impression that we are about to enter a dark and scary place. That, however, never actually happens. The story follows four teens with highly developed, over exaggerated phobias and one utterly insane school teacher. The story is really about friendship and relationships. The comic effect of the over exaggerated phobias combined with witty dialogue makes this a quick and entertaining read.
Unlike many books in the young adult genre with similar themes, this one contains no real violence or profanity. This fact compliments the light nature of the story. I especially enjoyed the phobias and their definitions that began each chapter.
"School of Fear" is by no means an award winning novel, but children who enjoy the "Heck" series may enjoy filling time between new releases with School of Fear.