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Grade 9 Up-This eclectic collection contains 18 original stories inspired by the artwork of Scott Hunt. The contributors, all YA authors, were given one of nine charcoal drawings and asked to write a story inspired by it. Pieces by two different authors are paired with each one, hence the twice told aspect of the title. The clever concept brings about a mixed bag of results with widely varying themes and degrees of literary success. Perhaps the best-executed stories are those by Neal Shusterman and David Lubar, which were both inspired by a painting entitled Bear and present amusing twists on human nature. Fans of Stephen King will appreciate William Sleator's Chocolate Almond Torte, a delightfully perverse tale based on a drawing of an ax lying next to a cake. A drawing entitled Backyard, whose composition is strikingly similar to Andrew Wyeth's painting Christina's World, inspired Ron Koertge's lovely story, Just a Couple of Girls Talking Haiku, in which friendship blossoms and wounds heal through poetry. Less successful are Marilyn Singer's Word of the Day, which is difficult to follow, and Adèle Geras's Ruby, which is more of a vignette than a fully developed story. Jaime Adoff's story poem The God of St. James and Vine is predictable and trite. This collection may inspire others to try writing stories based on art, and English teachers could have a great time with selected works. A Notes from the Authors section provides a glimpse into what the authors were thinking when they wrote their stories.-Cheri Dobbs, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI
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*Starred Review* Gr. 7-10. This is a refreshing departure from most thematic short story collections; the cohesive element here is a collection of nine intriguing charcoal drawings by artist Scott Hunt. Pairs of popular YA authors were given an illustration for inspiration. Sandwiching the drawings, the stories showcase very different responses to the art, and they cover a lot of thematic territory: racism, homosexuality, pedophilia, college, and family relationships. Some authors describe the picture in detail; others work it into their contribution in various creative ways. John Green's character, for example, buys his painting at a flea market; Ron Koertge's picture is a community mural; and Sarah Dessen's picture of a pudgy man in front of a small donut shop becomes the photo for the shop owner's new Web site. It's no surprise that M. T. Anderson and William Sleator penned the most disturbing tales; their picture shows a frosted cake and an ax on a kitchen table. Appended author profiles incorporate the writers' reactions to using art as inspiration. Connect this to Chris Van Allsburg's 1984 picture book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick or to Constance Morgenstern's Waking Day, reviewed on p.96. Cindy Dobrez
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