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“Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.”
Publisher: Greenwillow Books, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2014
Material: hard cover
Summary: This cabinet of curiosities hosts 6 drawers and two rooms. Each compartment has a theme. The curators (aka authors) share what they have discovered, collected, and / or experienced relative to the topic. This is an anthology of 36 eerie, dark short stories.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 9 to 13; read yourself: 10 and Up
Interest Level: 9 and Up
Reading Level: 5.3
Young Reader Reaction: Our 11-year-old wasn't interested in the letters that open the book. She just wanted to hear the stories. She was happier picking stories from the table of contents, not trying to read them in sequence.
Adult Reader Reaction: The stories are short and have a classic ghost-story-around-the-fire feel to them. Their mysteriousness gives them a natural tension that plays on classic fears. The collection is structured so that you can pick and choose stories or read them as a "cabinet." I chose to read them in order. After a while they got monotonous, even though the stories were different. This isn't a book for reading in one sitting.
Pros: Lovers of ghost stories and dark tales will have a feast day (or two!) with The Cabinet of Curiosities.
Cons: All of the stories are dark, with intensity that varies and is somewhat unpredictable. This is marketed for middle grade (10 to 13) but it still may be too scary for some readers / listeners.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a must-have-around book when you're looking for scary stories (e.g., sleepovers, Halloween parties, campouts), but it isn't one you're likely to read at other times.
Educational Themes: This is a collection of short stories for fun reading. Cabinets of Curiosities were actual things, and you might interest your readers in learning more about what they were. [See also: Wonderstruck by David Selznick.]
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - short stories, fantasy, horror, middle grade, young adult
Date(s) Reviewed: December 2015
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.