The Gruesome Book ¦ Peter Davison's Book of Alien Planets ¦ Ghosts that Haunt You ¦ Haunting Tales
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Peter Davison's Book of Alien Planets
Ghosts that Haunt You
The new collection of nasties from Piccolo will be widely read. Some are gruesome --- and some adults would say gratuitously so. Kids won't worry though and its cover, slimness and effective illustrations will pull them in. Teachers should check out Nigel Kneale's The Pond, Bloch's Hobo,Brian Lymley's The Deep-Sea Conch and Matheson's Long Distance Call for reasons of style or form. Kids always enjoy Kuttner's Graveyard Rats and the editor's own story plus the original 3.47 AM from David Langford will be popular, too - though all horror stories make few linguistic concessions and some are over-flashy, as if to compensate for their other crudities.
Peter Davison's (?) new collection is more conventional collection for a kids' book list. Two originals - from Stephen David and Mary Gentle - are OK but not exceptional and the six others are standard stuff for SF anthologies, with a couple from Clarke and a less-well-known Bradbury. Presumably the Davison appeal is to top juniors and lower secondary kids but these stories are only for the sophisticated among them, or for older kids - who might prefer a different package. Less appropriate than Davison's Alien Monsters; one hopes that any future anthologies in this series are given little more thought-young kids like action, not ideas.
Aidan Chambers' collection is much worse. Anyone who knows anything about ghost stories could put together a better one in an hour - maybe thirty minutes. Apart from two from his own Ghosts 2 (Topliner) there are dreary old standards from Agatha Christie, Bradbury (The Emissary, again, Chetwynd-Hayes, M.R. James (Lost Hearts, totally unsuitable for children), Manly Wade Wellman and, worst of all, the openers from August Derleth and Pamela Hansford Johnson. By comparison, an Armitage story from Joan Aiken is a relief! Poor illustrations, quite good cover; ignore unless you're desperate.
Haunting Tales (The Haunted and the Haunters in Bodley Head hardback) is another one to avoid. Beaver push out a lot of these collections so presumably they must sell despite the fact that most kids would be bored to tears by what they offer. This has the usual names - M.R. James, de la Mare, Blackwood - plus some less common, but no more readable, offerings. Older kids who can cope with slow, literary style and who dip into it here and there might enjoy parts --- provided they're not too suave for a book with this kind of cover.