From School Library Journal
Grade 7-10–Like The Restless Dead
(2007) and Gothic!
(2004, both Candlewick), this is a masterpiece of 10 short stories by world-class authors. Contributors include David Almond, Annette Curtis Klause, and Vivian Vande Velde. Particularly noteworthy is Cecil Castellucci's The Bread Box, in which a teenage girl learns the secret of her elderly aunt's extremely vivacious bread starter. True to Margo Lanagan's style, Living Curiosities is a multilayered tale that requires several rereadings to fully appreciate. Not all of the stories are traditional prose; several are graphic renditions, including Matt Phelan's masterfully drawn Jargo! which portrays a mysterious circus performer who is never seen out of costume. Several of the stories pack the same punch as old-fashioned O. Henry or Roald Dahl classics and are the stuff that will fill the English literature textbooks of tomorrow. Suspending disbelief, readers of this fantastic anthology may start investing in psychics and sleeping with the light on.–Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL
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Noyes once again pulls together 10 stories from some of teen fiction’s heaviest hitters (including Annette Curtis Klause, David Almond, and Cecil Castellucci), shining the spotlight on horror’s younger cousin: human oddities. “The Bearded Girl” is an obvious choice, but in it Aimee Bender hones a tale of adolescent acceptance to an uncanny edge, and Vivian Vande Velde delivers a near-perfect should-have-seen-it-coming twist in “Those Psychics on TV.” Margo Lanagan’s “Living Curiosities” unfortunately suffers from the short-story treatment, taking what might have been a great longer work and tying it up too tightly in its own unplaced sense of weird. In a sign of the format’s growing acceptance, three of the offerings are graphic stories, including the highlight of the collection, Matt Phelan’s quietly enigmatic “Jargo!,” about a circus curiosity who might be even curiouser than he seems. This is not as successful as Noyes’ compilations, Gothic! (2004) and The Restless Dead (2007). Yet layering strong writing with irresistible surprises, this collection, much like its topic, is more than a little disconcerting and just about impossible to ignore. Grades 9-12. --Ian Chipman