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Half-human Paperback – September 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0590955888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0590955881
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #374,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nine storytellers and a poet explore the bizarre and melancholy possibilities of being only partly human. In his introduction, Coville (the Unicorn Chronicles) admits these stories provide a "strange mirror," reflecting that part of the self that is not human. Several engaging tales of transformation, more lyric in quality, draw on fairytale or mythological conventions, such as a mermaid story by D.J. Malcolm, a tale of a tree spirit by Tamora Pierce and "Princess Dragonblood" (Jude Mandell). A pair of stories succeed as coming-of-age parables--"Soaring" (Tim Waggoner), a tale of a modern-day Icarus set against a "traveling phantasmagoria," and "Water's Edge" (Janni Lee Simner) about a contemporary selkie. Other selections strain credibility, such as Gregory Maguire's "Scarecrow," which imagines the convoluted origins of the hero of Wizard of Oz, and Jane Yolen's "Centaur," in which a baby centaur is born in the barn of a family that names it after a departed child; however, Yolen's skill as a storyteller redeems her unusual tale. The collection closes with Coville's own complex story about an ancient woman who is half snake, yearning to be freed into mortality. These stories will likely grab the attention of readers who are exploring and developing their own sense of what it means to be human, but the tales vary in their ability to sustain readers' interest in the plight of the unusual creatures. Ages 8-14.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Gr 6 Up-In his introduction, Coville poses the question, "What is the source of this obsession with the half-humans? Why do we still, in our modern technological age, find ourselves fascinated by mermaids and their ilk?" He responds with, "Perhaps it is a recognition of our own divided nature." The 10 stories chosen for this book support this premise and are, for the most part, compelling and well written. Nancy Springer's "Becoming" gives an intriguing modern twist to the story of Medusa when 13-year-old Dusie reaches puberty and her hair turns into snakes. Tamora Pierce's "Elder Brother" explores the problems and emotions of a tree that becomes a man and the girl who befriends him. Those who have read Gregory Maguire's Wicked (HarperCollins, 1995; o.p.) will especially appreciate his "Scarecrow," which views the Wizard of Oz from still another point of view. Jane Yolen's "Centaur Field" poses the question of what would happen if a centaur were born today as a family attempts to protect their strange creature from the press and exploitation. Coville's concluding story, "The Hardest, Kindest Gift," takes on the legions of heaven and the fate of a fallen angel. These selections span a wide range of half-human creatures and will interest an even wider age range of readers.

Janet Hilbun, formerly at Sam Houston Middle School, Garland, TX

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on July 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I do not to like short stories: they have the annoying tendency to end just as I'm beginning to enjoy the characters. But I do love legend, myths and fairytales. Bruce Coville challenged his fellow author to submit stories --- their common theme being that the protagonist was caught in a state where he or she isn't quite human. This collection of mermaids, gorgons and selkies provide a wonderfully entertaining time while asking us to wonder at what precisely does it mean to be human, a question people have been asking since the beginning of time.
All of the stories are well written, which I expected considering that the credits read like an all-star line up of contemporary fantasy writers. The thing that makes the anthology interesting is how the stories play together in the mind to form a single work even as they remain separate creations. Dusie, from Nancy Springer's "Becoming" is the girl at the next desk at school who has awaken to find that her hair has been transformed into snakes while Princess Eleanor in Jude Man Dell's "Princess Dragon Blood" is both a fairytale princess and a mighty warrior at the same time.
The question of how and when are we human and when we are not is presented both forcefully and subtly. The authors use the short story form well, allowing the reader to think about the stories and ask themselves what the question means both personally and to humans in general. HALF HUMAN also explores what it feels like to not "fit in". While these characters may have extras --- like wings or tails --- their stories are touching and familiar to any kid who feels left out. If Harry Potter whet your appetite for fantasy or if you simply want to read something a bit shorter, pick up HALF-HUMAN. Your reading time will be time well spent.
--- (...)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. Luciano VINE VOICE on July 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a series of short stories about young adults coming to terms with the fact that they are half human and half something else. Dusie wakes up one morning with a head full of snakes instead of hair and has to come to terms with the fact that her mother is a Gorgon. Linnea is turned into a mermaid by the god of the sea. She must figure out how to escape from this god and get back to her father again.

Laura has always thought she was strange, hearing the sea in her ears wherever she goes. But then in her grandmother's house she finds a sealskin that she can wear to turn into a seal, and everything makes sense. Qiom was a tree, mistakenly turned into a human by a magician. Now he is having trouble learning how to be a person, until a boy named Fadal offers to help him.

A scarecrow in a field realizes his existence and begins to wonder how he got there. A horse gives birth to a centaur, causing problems for the horse's ownders who now have to figure out how to hide the colt with the baby's torso and head.

A queen asks a witch to help her become pregnant. When the princess grows to be thirteen, she finds out her father was a dragon. Icarus, a boy in the freak show of a carnival, was born with wings he wishes he could use to fly away. Geoffroi's father lived an exceedingly long life, and left Geoffroi with a mission to accomplish.

I liked that each of these stories dealt with pain and acceptance in a unique way and each could be a metaphor for the struggle of growing up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Natasha Reeves on July 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
Actually a very decent anthology. I wish this system had half stars, because it really deserves 4 and a half as a whole. I will revise this review including the names of the short stories and possibly a short synopsis, but overall a decent collection. Very short book, I would have liked more, so it's recommended you buy this in paperback because unless you find a hardback used like I did, it isn't worth the hardback new price.

Stories:

Becoming by Nancy Springer (Medusa)
Linnea by D.J. Malcolm (Mermaid)
Water's Edge by Janni Lee Simner (Selkie)
Elder Brother by Tamora Pierce(Tree-people)
How to Make a Human by Lawrence Schimel(A poem, miscellaneous)
Scarecrow by Gregory Maguire (Scarecrow man)
Centaur Field by Jane Yolen (Centaur)
Princess Dragonblood by Jude Mandell(Dragon girl)
Soaring by Tim Waggoner (Winged boy)
The Hardest, Kindest Gift by Bruce Coville (Moth woman)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CountryGal on April 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is one of those books where you like some stories, and dislike others. I greatly enjoyed the story "Linnea" by D. J. Malcolm. My suggestion for this book (and all other books ever written for that matter), is to check it out from the library to read it first, before you buy it. I'm not saying that this is a bad book, but it's always good to check first! Anyway, I have a question for all of you: Does anyone know if D.J. Malcolm has a website? Is there a list of books he has written? And how can I contact him? Just checking!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Always been a fan of Bruce Coville! Grew up reading his My Teacher is an Alien series. This book meets expectations!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A youngish thinker. on March 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
It's been a long time since I read this book, but it still stands out as the best short story collection I've read. Okay, so I haven't read many short story collections, but I've read *some*! ;-)

This book is made of nine collected shorts written by great fantasy authors on the subject of half-humans, from a girl who discovers she's a selkie, to a girl who suddenly discovers that she's from a long line of Medusas when she reaches puberty, to a tree that's been turned into a man. That last one, by Tamora Pierce, really sticks out in my mind, because a long time after reading the book that it was an offset of, I came across this. It's based on the premise that, when in her series a powerful magician turns a man into a tree, somewhere some tree has been turned into a man. That idea is all that is mentioned of the subject in the book, but it is a very interesting and laden idea. I guess it stuck in Pierce's mind.

Anyway, this is a book worth your time. It is engaging, and the stories, being so wild, envelop you totally and take you away. Would make a great book to read on the beach during a vacation! Spring break hints, people...:-)
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