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Ask the Bones: Scary Stories from Around the World Paperback – August 26, 2002


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Ask the Bones: Scary Stories from Around the World + Short & Shivery + They're Coming For You: Scary Stories that Scream to be Read
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 790L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin (August 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014230140X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142301401
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Readers looking to be scared (but not too scared) will find chills aplenty in this collection of 22 smoothly told folktales from many cultures. The volume opens with several stories in which protagonists (almost always male) witness supernatural horrors?a Japanese student's drawings of cats save him from a ravaging goblin rat; a Charleston boy's employer is meted out gruesome but just deserts after imprisoning a mermaid in a bottle. The tone darkens as the volume progresses, with the innocent as well as the guilty coming to grisly ends. Picture book author Olson (Hurry Home, Grandma!) and folklorist Schwartz (Next Year in Jerusalem) don't exploit the blood and gore of the horror genre; their stories usually end just before the carnage begins, leaving readers with a thrill of horribly delicious anticipation. Rather than striving to impart the different flavors of their original sources, the authors favor a deceptively casual voice throughout, one that would lend itself to a storytelling session around a campfire or after lights out. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7-A collection of 22 stories, 6 from the United States, and others from Russia, Persia, Mexico, Germany, Iceland, England, Uzbekistan, and Spain, among other places. The retellings are spare, with little description, explanation, or enhancement to the "bare bones" of the tales. Although the selections do not read aloud well, there is the potential for storytellers to create more tellable versions by embellishing upon them with their own style. The strength of this book is in the tales included. Many are hard to find in print, especially for this age group. Source notes appear at the end. The black-and-white charcoal drawings scattered throughout do little to add to the mood of the text. This title will not have the appeal of Alvin Schwartz's "Scary Stories" books (HarperCollins). However, if your scary-story readers have exhausted your current titles, you may want to consider this one.
Molly S. Kinney, Office of Public Library Services, Atlanta, GA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author



Howard Schwartz is Professor of English at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He has published three books of poetry, and several books of fiction, including The Captive Soul of the Messiah and Adam's Soul. He has also edited a four-volume set of Jewish folktales, which includes Elijah's Violin & Other Jewish Fairy Tales, Miriam's Tambourine: Jewish Folktales from Around the World, Lilith's Cave: Jewish Tales of the Supernatural and, most recently, Gabriel's Palace: Jewish Mystical Tales. He has also edited three major anthologies: Imperial Messages: One Hundred Modern Parables, Voices Within the Ark: The Modern Jewish Poets (with Anthony Rudolf), and Gates to the New City: A Treasury of Modern Jewish Tales. His recent book, Reimagining the Bible: The Storytelling of the Rabbis, was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for 1999. In addition, Schwartz has also published ten children's books, including The Diamond Tree (with Barbara Rush, which won the Sydney Taylor Book Award in 1992), Next Year in Jerusalem: 3000 Years of Jewish Tales (which won the National Jewish Book Award and the Aesop Award of the American Folklore Society, both in 1996), A Coat for the Moon (with Barbara Rush, which won Anne Izard Storyeller's Choice Award for 1998 and the 1999 Honor Title of the Storytelling World Awards, and The Day the Rabbi Disappeared: Jewish Holiday Tales of Magic (which won the National Jewish Book Award and The Aesop Prize of the American Folklore Society for 2000). His major book, Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism, won the National Jewish Book Award for 2005 in the category of Reference. Schwartz lives in St. Louis with his wife Tsila, a calligrapher, and his three children, Shira, Nathan and Miriam.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on June 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
My school librarian read us stories from this book in library time. I didn't really like it, it was kind of boring. I like the scary stories series from Alvin Schwartz. There were only like two or three stories in this book that I remotly liked, but other than that, these books are a bit flat. I don't reccomend this book.That is really all I have to say about that.

P.S. The Scary Story series are awesome!!
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I think this book is good for kids that can handle very scary stories. If you do not like to read scary stories, do not read this book at all. I think that the grownups would like the story called, "The Handkerchief." I think grownups would like it because it is very scary, and I think that's what you grownups like. I think this book is appropriate for 7 to 13 year olds. I think that because I have just begun to read it this year, and I'm sure I would have liked it last year. I'm eight right now. Even though you may be older than 13, you may still like this book. The book is pretty scary. A lot of kids fight over this book at school because they think it is the greatest.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you're heading to camp this summer, this might be the perfect book to read before you go. It's not a handbook or manual on survival, rather it's a compilation of 22 scary folktales to tell around the fire or during a late-night gabfest in the cabin.
Between these pages you'll encounter ghosts, witches, demons, evil eyes, giants, monsters, talking heads and other beasties from near and far, Japan to Iceland, Eastern Europe to Mexico. The sources for the tales are listed at the back of the book. Many of them come from respected regional and national archives.
Even so, the stories vary in their effectiveness and "scare factor." Some don't rise much above the level of urban legends passed around on the Internet. Others, like the title story, are true folk tales, with obvious staying power.
The stories are short, just five-six pages each. Several of them are illustrated with pencil drawings, which are moody, if not exactly scary.
Older elementary and middle school students will get a kick out of scaring themselves silly with these horror stories.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
The book Ask The Bones retold by Arielle North Olson and Howard Schwart, is a great book. This book has many stories from around the world but my favorite one is called " Next- To- Kin." This story is about this boy's aunt that is very jealous if someone goes near her husband and she has a forked tongue. She can also turn into a snake but the boy does not know this. Once the aunt grabbed the boy in jealousy and stuck her fingernails in his skin. The boy went to the old man so he could heal the wound. The old man was very wise and told the boy that his aunt is really a snake women! The old man said "If you really want to see if she really is a snake women, then, when she turns into a snake cut off the tip of the tail. If she is wounded tomorrow that means she is a snake women." The old man continued " And if you see the snake skin around then burn it so the snake women could die!" That night the boy was awake for the whole night to see if the old man was right. The snake came under the door and SLASH, the boy cut of the tip of the snake's tail. The snake went back to the other room. In the morning the boy's aunt's toe was wounded and she said she needed to rest and so she did. When the boy's aunt was better, the boy went to the room she was in and found snake skin! He quickly took it and burned it in his room. ...If you want to know what happened to the boy and his uncle then read, Ask The Bones and the story "Next- To- Kin."
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
In the tradition of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "The Turn of the Screw," "Ask the Bones" brings us ghosts that win! Only a few of the victims in these stories manage to escape, and even they have bad dreams for a long time. My favorite was the voodoo curse that turns a cruel slave master and his family into barnyard animals. All sources attributed in the appendix.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. Smith on January 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was told that for Christmas my 10-year-old nephew wanted some books with scary stories that were true, but not too scary - sort of like the Scary Stories set by Alvin Schwartz. I picked out this book and one other for him, but after he opened them he started reading this one right away and pretty much didn't stop all Christmas Day. I'm taking that to be a recommendation on his part. Also, I haven't heard that he's had nightmares or anything so I'm thinking they weren't TOO scary either.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
Ask the Bones is a combination of many stories from around the World. Some of the stories I like for example are Ask the Bones from the Caucasus Region, Nowhere to Hide from Russia, The Black Snake from Persia, And the Invisible Guest from Germany. Each of the stories in the book are about 7 pages long. These stories are some of the scariest I've ever read. Trust me I read lots of scary stories. I liked this book over all and would give it 4 stars. The only thing I would improve would be more stories for more fun. I would recommend this book to people who like scary stories. It is a good book. I especially liked Nowhere to Hide because it is scary and surprising because you won't know what will happen. I also liked it because it got you to keep reading and I read it multiple times. I liked the Black Snake because it is exciting. It had the kookiest things happening.
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