Nonfiction Monday: Are You Afraid Yet?
If you work anywhere near a library (or have children of your own), I don’t have to emphasize the fact that there are tons of kids who flock to the frightening. If it has werewolves, zombies, or any other of the classic horror cast of characters, it’s gonna get circulated like mad. Are You Afraid Yet? The Science Behind Scary Stuff goes well beyond simply exploiting the spooky, describing (as the subtitle suggests) the scientific processes behind fear. An entertaining little book that has appeal to spare.
A slightly sinister version of the author narrates Are You Afraid Yet?, gleefully jumping from one macabre topic to the next. And there is plenty of material. Name a classic horror tale, from Frankenstein to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and this book touches on it – sometimes to describe the real-life inspiration for these tales, sometimes in an attempt to explain the biology behind the horror. Along the way readers will discover why maggots develop on rotting flesh, the scientific explanation for why monsters are ugly, why old houses sometimes seem to be haunted, and scores of other spooky miscellanea.
Black and white illustration plays a prominent role, with titles, illustrations, and even comic book style interludes mixed in with the text, upping the reluctant-reader appeal.
The tone is always one of instruction. Gruesome details are provided by our narrator, but always with an eye for the science behind them. There is a section on beheading, for instance, that will leave you feeling like a minor expert on the subject. In addition, Mr. O’Meara’s informal style of writing will likely appeal to many young readers who are looking for an alternative to textbook dreariness.
From front to back, a pleasure to read. Content, illustrations, and style combine to make Are You Afraid Yet? a highly recommended nonfiction selection.
Check out the Nonfiction Monday roundup at Lori Calabrese Writes!.
Also reviewed by BookMoot.
Find this bok at your local library with WorldCat.
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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