Tag Archives: short stories

Guys Read: Heroes & Villains by Jon Scieszka

Guys Read: Heroes & Villains by Jon Scieszka. April 4, 2017. Walden Pond Press, 288 p. ISBN: 9780062385611.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.2.

Heroes and Villains, the seventh volume in Jon Scieszka’s Guys Read Library of Great Reading, is chock-full of adventure featuring an array of characters—with and without capes.

Featuring ten all-new, original stories that run the gamut from fantasy to comics to contemporary adventure to nonfiction, and featuring eleven of the most acclaimed, exciting writers for kids working today, this collection is the perfect book for you, whether you use your powers for good—or evil.

Authors include Laurie Halse Anderson, Cathy Camper and Raúl Gonzalez, Sharon Creech, Jack Gantos, Christopher Healy, Deborah Hopkinson, Ingrid Law, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Lemony Snicket, and Eugene Yelchin, with illustrations by Jeff Stokely.

Part of Series: Guys Read

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Violence

 

 

 

Teacher Resources

Guys Read website

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Guys Read: Heroes & Villains on Amazon

Guys Read: Heroes & Villains on Goodreads

Guys Read: Heroes & Villains on JLG

Guys Read: Heroes & Villains Publisher Page

The World to Come by Jim Shepard

The World to Come: Stories by Jim Shepard. February 21, 2017. Knopf, 256p. ISBN: 9781524731809.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

“Without a doubt the most ambitious story writer in America,” according to The Daily Beast, Jim Shepard now delivers a new collection that spans borders and centuries with unrivaled mastery.

These ten stories ring with voices belonging to–among others–English Arctic explorers in one of history’s most nightmarish expeditions, a young contemporary American negotiating the shockingly underreported hazards of our crude-oil trains, eighteenth-century French balloonists inventing manned flight, and two mid-nineteenth-century housewives trying to forge a connection despite their isolation on the frontier of settlement. In each case the personal is the political as these characters face everything from the emotional pitfalls of everyday life to historic catastrophes on a global scale. In his fifth collection, Shepard makes each of these wildly various worlds his own, and never before has he delineated anything like them so powerfully.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Strong sexual themes; Alcohol

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
Shepard, a fiction writer with a remarkably intimate approach to historical subjects, returns to the short story following his novel, The Book of Aron (2015), winner of the PEN New England Award and the Sophie Brody Medal for Excellence in Jewish Literature, and a Carnegie Medal finalist. In this collection of 10 exceptionally powerful tales of courageous responsibility and criminal indifference set in the past and present, Shepard creates various states of emergency either diligently recorded in journals or conveyed in high-velocity, dialogue-driven dramas. With wit and compassion, he fictionalizes the doomed Arctic Franklin Expedition and the 1961 destruction by a violent storm of a precariously erected, manned radar tower off the East Coast. He tells the stories of imperiled crew members on a WWII submarine and two men on an overloaded, under-inspected oil train heading for disaster. Shepard’s fascination with technology also fuels a sweetly droll tale about the eighteenth-century French Montgolfier brothers and their hot-air balloons. In the heartbreaking title story, Shepard choreographs a slow domestic disaster in 1850s New England, where two lonely farm women discover a dangerous passion. Throughout this masterful, profoundly involving collection, Shepard elucidates with stirring precision the emotions of characters ambushed by terrifying powers beyond their control, whether a blizzard or an earthquake, the death of a child, or forbidden love.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2016)
Shepard’s fifth story collection—his first book since his well-received novel, The Book of Aron (2015), which was a Kirkus Prize finalist—demonstrates why he’s a writer who defies categorization. An extended bibliography shows just how meticulous Shepard’s research is, as usual. There’s nothing confessional in his work, no possibility of confusing the author with his protagonists, who include a frontier housewife in a loveless marriage (the title story), a French balloonist in the 18th century who is as impractical as he is imaginative (“The Ocean of Air”), and a British submariner in World War II “immersed in a haze of inertia” (“Telemachus”). Some of his stories take the form of diaries, and he writes in the language and cadence of the period, suggesting an occasional stylistic affinity with Conrad and Melville. Yet these aren’t historical fictions or period pieces but meditations on the past as prologue, on seeing the world to come (as the title has it) in the world that has been. This world is one in which impersonal bureaucracy trumps individual initiative at every turn, whether Shepard is writing about the seemingly predestined collapse of an Air Force information tower (“Safety Tips for Living Alone”), illuminating “the state of most of our railway infrastructure, which on a good day can look like the shittiest Third World footings and tracks on a bad day” (“Positive Train Control,” which has pages that read like investigative journalism), or a doomed 19th-century seafaring exploration (“HMS Terror”). In addition to institutional forces, fate and nature make humanity seem very small in these stories; so many of their protagonists are somehow feckless and hapless as they try to find some semblance of a lifeline in the most tenuous connections, in what the final story terms, with a tinge of irony, “the silver lining of their intimacy.” A stylist whose fictional expansiveness underscores his singularity.

About the Author

Jim Shepard was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and is the author of six novels, including most recently Project X, and four story collections, including the forthcoming You Think That’s Bad. His third collection, Like You’d Understand, Anyway, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won The Story Prize. Project X won the 2005 Library of Congress/Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction, as well as the ALEX Award from the American Library Association. His short fiction has appeared in, among other magazines, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, DoubleTake, the New Yorker, Granta, Zoetrope: All-Story, and Playboy, and he was a columnist on film for the magazine The Believer. Four of his stories have been chosen for the Best American Short Stories and one for a Pushcart Prize. He’s won an Artists’ Grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He teaches at Williams College and lives in Williamstown with his wife Karen, his three children, and two beagles.

His website is jimshepard.wordpress.com.

Around the Web

The World to Come on Amazon

The World to Come on Goodreads

The World to Come on JLG

The World to Come Publisher Page

Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh

Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh. January 3, 2017. Crown Books for Young Readers, 240 p. ISBN: 9781101934609.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 4.5; Lexile: 800.

Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.

In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.

From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Violence; Racism

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 2))
Grades 4-7. This collaboration with We Need Diverse Books has no single overarching theme. Instead, its 10 award-winning contributors bring their own diversity to individual, idiosyncratic stories that reflect a variety of themes and subjects. The book is dedicated to the late Walter Dean Myers, who is well represented in the collection with his satisfying story about a physically challenged boy, his father, and wheelchair basketball. Though the stories are roundly excellent—authors include Kelly J. Baptist, Grace Lin, Tim Tingle, and Meg Medina—a few do stand out. Matt de la Peña writes about a young Latino boy for whom basketball is a way out to a better life. Tim Federle tells a lighthearted story about Secret Santas and the gift of friendship. Then there is Jacqueline Woodson’s beautiful offering about love, loss, and an interracial friendship; Soman Chainani’s irresistible tale about a lonely American boy on vacation with his Auntie Mame of a grandmother; and Kwame Alexander’s teasingly imaginative story in verse about a boy who acquires a magic power—or does he? No matter if he doesn’t, for there’s plenty of magic in this collection to go around.

Kirkus Reviews starred (October 1, 2016)
Edited by We Need Diverse Books co-founder Oh, a collection of short stories that embraces a wide cultural spectrum of authorship. Readers feel the angst that comes with getting to know the cool new California girl at a Pennsylvania school in Tim Federle’s “Secret Samantha,” narrated by gender-nonconforming Sam. They’ll thrill to Grace Lin’s “The Difficult Path,” the tale of a young Chinese servant girl who is captured by pirates, who save her from an arranged marriage to a horrible young boy from a wealthy family. Kwame Alexander contributes a short story in verse about a young Star Wars geek who is head over heels with the school’s prettiest girl. Perhaps most poignantly, there is “Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push,” about a boy whose basketball-star father gives his wheelchair basketball team some crucial pointers, from Walter Dean Myers. These stories and others—from Matt de la Peña, Meg Medina, Kelly J. Baptist, Tim Tingle, Jacqueline Woodson, and Soman Chainani—ably contain universal themes: friendship, sibling rivalry, parental embarrassment, first crushes, and the trials and challenges that school can bring. Thumbnail biographies of the contributors and an introduction to the genesis and work of We Need Diverse Books round out the volume. A natural for middle school classrooms and libraries, this strong collection should find eager readers. (Anthology. 8-12)

About the Editor

Writer, lawyer, college instructor, donut-slayer, chocolate lover. Addicted to diet coke. Likes to quote extensively from the Princess Bride, Monty Python and Godfather movies. Never leaves home without her iphone, chapstick, a book and her American Express card.

For a more detailed bio, please check out her website at ellenoh.com.

Teacher Resources

Flying Lessons & Other Stories Teaching Guide

Around the Web

Flying Lessons & Other Stories on Amazon

Flying Lessons & Other Stories on Goodreads

Flying Lessons & Other Stories on JLG

Flying Lessons & Other Stories Publisher Page

Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies by David Lubar

Seriously Shifted by David Lubar. September 13, 2016. Starscape, 205 p. ISBN: 9780765377265.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.7; Lexile: 630.

Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies is the eighth collection of spooky short stories for ages 8 to 12 by the beloved author of the Nathan Abercrombie series, David Lubar. This is the perfect pick for reluctant young readers who like a few chills and a lot of laughs.

The appearance of a mysterious new girl in school stops her classmates cold. Black Friday shopping gets out of control for a mother and daughter. And stands full of screaming and shouting Bleacher Weenies are about to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Welcome to the Weenie Zone! Here are thirty-one hilarious and harrowing stories that will scare you, make you laugh, or get you to see the world in a whole new way. Find out where the author got the idea for each story at the end of the book.

Don’t be a weenie. Read these stories. If you dare!

Part of Series: Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2016)
The weird, warped weenies return for an eighth collection of tiny terror tales.Vampires stalk vampires that stalk vampires (to eat of course). A spelling mistake in special writing-assistance software at school introduces Hector to the Different, where the hyperbolic descriptions on video clips (“…will make you wet your pants!”) are lethally true. With conservation in mind, Serena works successfully to get the local werewolf placed on the endangered species list…and finds she’s suddenly the go-to girl for supernatural beings tired of being hunted to extinction. Lubar, king of the quick and twisty tale, sultan of the scary (and sometimes silly) short-short story, presents 30 more diminutive dips into the strange, the bizarre, and the unexpected. Most end badly for the protagonist or narrator; boys and girls are represented in equal number. It’s to be expected in a field of well over 200 weenies stories there will be some strikeouts; there are a few here. However, the final story alone is worth the price of a ticket to this game (coulrophobes, don’t even think about reading it!). The collection concludes with a section of story notes explaining the origins of these tales of time travel, revenge, fears come to life, and bullies getting their just deserts. Fans will be shivering and laughing…evilly. (Short stories. 9-12)

About the Author

David Lubar has written more than thirty books for teens and young readers. His novels, including Hidden Talents and Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, are on reading lists across the country, saving countless students from a close encounter with Madam Bovary. His novel, Dunk, won Pennsylvania’s Young Adult Book Award and was used by the New Jersey Library Association for their One Book New Jersey program. His Weenies short story collections have sold more than two million copies. He is a popular speaker at schools and conferences around the country. He also designed and programmed many video games in an earlier eight-bit life, including Home Alone and Frogger 2. In his spare time, he takes naps on the couch.

He grew up in New Jersey, went to Rutgers, and now lives in Nazareth, PA with one awesome female and various annoying felines. You can visit him on the web at www.davidlubar.com.

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Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies on Amazon

Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies on JLG

Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies on Goodreads