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Half-Minute Horrors Hardcover – August 25, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Book Description

How scared can you get in only 30 seconds? Dare to find out with Half-Minute Horrors, a collection of deliciously terrifying short short tales and creepy illustrations by an exceptional selection of writers and illustrators, including bestselling talents Lemony Snicket, James Patterson, Neil Gaiman, R.L.Stine, Faye Kellerman, Holly Black, Melissa Marr, Margaret Atwood, Jon Scieszka, Brett Helquist, and many more. With royalties benefiting First Book, a not-for-profit organization that brings books to children in need, this is an anthology worth devouring. So grab a flashlight, set the timer, and get ready for instant chills!

Excerpts from Half-Minute Horrors
"Something You Ought to Know" by Lemony Snicket
“The right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing” is a phrase that refers to times when people ought to know, but don’t know, about something that is happening very close to them. For instance, you ought to know about the man who watches you when you sleep.

He is a quiet man, which is why you don’t know about him.

You don’t know how he gets into your home, or how he finds his way to the room in which you sleep. You don’t know how he can stare at you so long without blinking, and you don’t know how he manages to be gone by morning, without a trace, and you don’t know where he purchased the long, sharp knife, curved like a crescent moon, that he holds in his left hand, sometimes just millimeters from your eyes, which are closed and flickering in dreams.

Continue reading "Something You Ought to Know"

"The Creeping Hand" by Margaret Atwood
The hand crept up the cellar stairs. It was shriveled and dirty, and its fingernails were long.

It scuttled along the dark hallway. At the closed door it sniffed with its fingertips, then jumped up like a giant spider, grabbed the doorknob, and turned.

Inside the room it found a sock. Then a shoe. And then--another hand, hanging down from the bed. A young hand, a hand that it could kidnap and take away down to the cellar.

But this hand was attached to an arm.

Something could be done about that.

"The Legend of Alexandra & Rose" by Jon Klassen

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"Worms" by Lane Smith

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From School Library Journal

Grade 4–8—This thrilling addition to the shiver-inducing arsenal will appeal to even the most reluctant of readers. The book contains dozens of short (most are one to three pages long) tales that range from silly (Adam Rex's one-page graphic comic) to grotesque (M. T. Anderson's "An Easy Gig") to morbid (Faye Kellerman's "Deep Six"). Unlike many short-story collections, this anthology forms a cohesive unit based on its purpose—scaring children silly. It possesses that delicious campfire quality of urban legends and lame jokes told late at night when everyone wants to be entertained. Youngsters may choose to read it straight through or to browse the stories, folktales, poems, and illustrations that make up this eclectic yet unified volume. Chock-full of selections by notable contributors such as Lane Smith, Neil Gaiman, Kenneth Oppel, Jack Gantos, James Patterson, and R. L. Stine, Half-Minute Horrors is the perfect choice for that smirking child who disdains fiction starring happy puppies or home-run heroes.—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 720L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (August 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061833797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061833793
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,340,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Snell Jr. on September 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Over explaining the details of the plot is one of the biggest problems currently plaguing modern horror writing (and horror film making, for that matter). Chills thrive on ambiguity and mystery, and shining light into every corner of the story leaves no room for shadows. As any good writer of fearful fiction will tell you, no amount of description can live up to the shudder-inducing impressions a reader's imagination can piece together from a few dreadful hints. A concept too readily ignored by many writers, but happily embraced by the authors and artists at work here!

With extremely limited page space, these scary scribes and scribblers work wonders, creating creepiness for kids that might even give a few adults nightmares. Not all of the stories are gems, of course, and a few of them are actually so dark I wonder about their inclusion in a book marketed to the 9-12 group. But barring the odd bit of unevenness, this is still one of the most refreshing horror anthologies I've read across in a while. If you're a horror fan, young or old, this is one collection that's definitely worth your attention!
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This is a wonderful book of short, rather disturbing stories. I purchased this book to use during a middle school writing workshop that I run and both I and the students have thoroughly enjoyed the "half-minute horrors." I can't say enough about it! With such authors as Lemony Snicket and Margaret Atwood, even as an adult you will appreciate the stories. I would recommend this book to teachers who enjoy bringing out the quirkiness and talents in young writers and to middle school range students who will enjoy being spooked by the possibilities of things under their beds, hands looking for company, and spiders ready to take their own mother away. Absolutely LOVE this book!
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I first bought this book because of an appearance by Lemony Snicket in it, which demonstrates his usual style of being funny and creepy at the same time. The rest of the short stories (and they're extremely short) share the same sort of feel, with some funnier than others and some creepier. It also provides stories with illustrations, which will appeal to younger ones, though I warn you that some stories are pretty dark humored. I would suggest children no younger than 6 or 7 reading this book. This book is in essence a much shorter version of the Scary/Haunted Stories series that have charmed people for years. This is also a cuter version. Overall, I enjoyed the book and so did my younger sister. Great for halloween time :]
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In my library, almost every day a kids asks me for a scary book. For some reason, many of them are reluctant readers.

This book is perfect.

It has great writing and the stories are short -- really short. The longest ones are three pages.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There are some genuinely creepy short stories in this collection. It's amazing to see how effective these writers have been in both succinct and sinister. A great intro for reluctant readers who blanch at reading a whole book, these are some of the shortest short stories ever written.
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By B. W. on October 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got this for my middle school classroom. Some of the stories were a little creepy, but most were more ironic, clever surprise than tension-building terror. I read a few to the kids for Halloween, and they mostly thought they were lame. While they are age appropriate, my kids just didn't like them.
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Format: Paperback
Quite frightening! I certainly wasn't expecting the stories the be as disturbing as they were. I suppose that I thought that horror for children had been really washed out. I base this on the fact that the "Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark" series got new covers because the old ones were apparently too horrifying for the kids.

I grew up on those scary story books and don't remember being too horrified (I was properly horrified, not too horrified).

Some of these stories went over my head a bit, I admit. There were at least two I read and felt like I'd failed figuring out the puzzle. Why is Tiger Kitty so scary, for example? It's a cute cat that gets lost and, I assume, has a really really bad few days and comes back a changed feline (who wouldn't?) but that's as far as I could get my mind to go.

Overall this was quite a chilling compilation. I kept wondering to myself if I would ever let my children read them. I, personally, would probably be much more comfortable letting my (future) teens read something like this than my 8 year olds and I would be more likely to order this book for my YA collection and not the children's.

Parents of youngins should definitely give this book a read on their own first to test the waters. *grin* Dare you to read it at night.
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Format: Hardcover
With over thirty stories, from one paragraph to two pages, these are written to scare kids and adults alike from your favorite Young Adult authors. Holly Black, Neil Gaiman, R.L. Stine, and even James Patterson have written for this frightening anthology.

Not only are there short stories within the book, but there are also comic strips, poems, and even haikus and limericks included in the mix to creep under your skin.

Some art in the book is drawn for you to make your own interpretations. There is a collage of monsters, a Ouija board sending a boy a message of fear, even vengeful animal spirits. Each drawing is beautifully illustrated no matter the subject!

Stories vary from ghost children to evil alien parents, monsters under the bed to killer pets! Great for Halloween or any time, HALF-MINUTE HORRORS is short enough to fill anyone's attention span and is worth the read if you like a frightening tale!

Reviewed by: Lesley
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