Fear This Book: Your Guide to Fright, Horror, and Things That Go Bump in the Night.
Nikki Tate-Stratton writes children’s picture books and novels for
preteens. Her most recent novels are Jo’s Triumph, Raven’s Revenge,
and Tarragon Island. Her latest picture book is Grandparents’ Day.
Starting with the basics (How is a startle response different to fear? What are the functions and physiological manifestations of fear?), this book about fear uses a light touch to cover plenty of potentially creepy territory.
Most of the book is made up of double-page spreads, each of which describes something frightening. The list of topics includes; superstitions, curses, the dark, vampires, nightmares, ghosts, and monsters. Myths, fairytales, phobias, and scary celebrations (like Halloween) are described alongside horror movies and roller coasters (the latter being means of simulating the thrill of being scared without actually being in real danger). Other subjects covered include scientific studies dealing with fear, the psychology of fear, and coping with phobias. Sidebars highlight strange facts and trivia and silly cartoon drawings poke fun at some of the material treated more seriously in the main text.
Some sections written in the second person are heavy-handed, particularly when Szpirglas tries to engage the reader in a conversation about fear. The technique is sometimes irritating, particularly when the reader’s internal response doesn’t match the anticipated reaction suggested by a question or comment.
A table of contents and a decent index make it easy to navigate through the material. Though some may read the book from cover to cover, short, discrete text segments invite readers to dip and sample. On the whole, this is a playful exploration of a subject relevant to young readers. Recommended.