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Friday, August 29, 2014

"Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief & Sinister" by Stefan Bachmann, Katherine Catmull, Claire Legrand & Emma Trevayne (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

 Visit Stefan Bachmann's Official Website Here
Visit Katherine Catmull's Official Website Here
Visit Claire Legrand's Official Website Here
Visit Emma Trevayne's Official Website Here

OVERVIEW: A collection of eerie, mysterious, intriguing, and very short short stories presented by the cabinet's esteemed curators, otherwise known as acclaimed authors Stefan Bachmann, Katherine Catmull, Claire LeGrand, and Emma Trevayne. Perfect for fans of Alvin Schwartz and anyone who relishes a good creepy read-alone or read-aloud story. Features an introduction and commentary by the curators, and illustrations and decorations throughout.

FORMAT: The Cabinet of Curiosities is an anthology of children's short stories. It features 36 stories written by four authors and accompanied by illustrations. All the stories have a horror or sinister theme to them. The anthology stands at 488 pages and was published May 27, 2014 by Greenwillow Books.

ANALYSIS: It seems like there has been a shift lately when it comes to anthologies. It used to be you could walk up to the bookshelf and it would be filled with children's short story anthology, but over the years that has changed and it became difficult to find anthologies for children. When there was an anthology, it wasn't very good. The Cabinet of Curiosities changes all of that and brings the trend back.

The Cabinet of Curiosities is a packed with 36 amazing and very creepy children's short stories. The basic theme of the anthology is several 'curators' of a museum have gathered together to share the stories behind specific artifacts that have been discovered. Each artifact can be tied to a theme (love, music, food), which is how it is stored and classified in the 'museum'.

I will admit that I found the theme of this anthology a bit confusing. Each of the sections was introduced with a letter from one of the curators. It was difficult to understand what they were talking about or referencing. While the theme seems like it would be a good idea on the outside, it just wasn't executed as well as it should have or could have been.

I think the anthology would have worked just fine without the goofy letters and silly introductions. I think it didn't work because it wasn't until literally the end of the book that it all came together – at least for me. It was like an 'ah ha' moment when it clicked, but it shouldn't take until the end of an anthology for me to understand the theme.

There is an epilogue to the anthology which gives readers a brief 'what happened to….. ' look at some of the characters. I really enjoyed this and really felt it was a unique, extra touch that made the anthology special.

The slight issue with the theme of the anthology aside, I found that the vast majority of these stories were really well written. When reading them, I couldn't help get the feeling that these would make great read-aloud stories for parents of children. Sure, some of the stories were really creepy, while others were just slightly scary, but the vast majority were really, really good.

It should be noted that this anthology – for some adults – could quickly become dull/predictable. If you were to read all the stories in one go, it would feel as if there were a lot of very similar stories. Some of the stories are similar in nature, but I think there is enough diversity that it keeps children - and most adults - interested.

The following are some of my favorites from this anthology.

Generously Donated By by Emma Trevayne
Remember all those field trips you used to go on as a child and were incredibly bored? This short story tells the tale of one child who is bored on a field trip to a museum, but what happens to him on this particular trip will make sure he never takes another field trip for granted again.

The Sandman Cometh by Claire Legrand

A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's folk tale of Ole Lukoje, this short story will not disappoint. It has just the right creep factor to it without going overboard, and it stayed true to the original fairy tale.

The Book of Bones by Emma Trevayne  

I'm not sure exactly why I loved this short story, but I did. I felt it was original and really stood out from the other stories. It wasn't one that was forced into a category or theme, so that might explain why it was so appealing. It tells the tale of a wizard who is mysteriously digging up body parts and using them for parts of books. There is a unique little twist and a creep-tastic ending that I don't want to spoil.

The Cake Made Out of Teeth by Claire Legrand

A bratty child who gets whatever he wants is finally taught a lesson in this sinister short story. A young, spoiled child finds a bakery and demands that he get a cake from there – that looks just like himself. What happens to him will have you thinking twice about ever ordering a cake that looks like yourself (if you were planning on doing that!).

Overall, I felt the majority of the stories were well written. Some of the stories were just run-of-the-mill scary stories, but there were enough really good ones to make this a good read.

The Cabinet of Curiosities is perfect for reading aloud or for children who want to read independently. It is certainly ideal for the child who wants to stray away from the 'bubble gum and gumdrops' children's stories and venture into the horror genre.


Kylee said...

This book is a really good book


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