Friday, November 27, 2009

Update for the Masses

Alright, I admit it, this is a bit of a placeholder post. We've both been sortof busy, of late; other projects and whatnot, plus this humble blogger is also a full-time student. Don't give up on us, though, because we have a lot of directions we're going to be taking this thing in coming months. Here's a list of ideas and ongoing projects:

  • "Screaming Out Loud": the horror podcast series will continue in December
  • Guest Bloggers Welcome!: Got a story about your favorite spooky story, or moment of spookery from your childhood? If you would like to Guest Blog, or even join us as a regular contributor, contact us; we'd love to hear from you.
  • Broader subject matter: In addition to reviews, we'll be taking a look at what make horror so fascinating, why kids and teens are drawn to it, and how to deal with advanced readers and the question of age-appropriate content.
  • Fiction?: My personal inclination is to ask you, Dear Reader (to rip from Stephen King), should we include a section for original submissions?
  • Ideas?: What would you like to see here? If you have ideas for what you'd like to see on this blog, get in touch! This is the running theme, today, because we honestly want to know what you have to say, what you want us to say, and what we can do to make this a better space for childrens' horror.

Ultimately, this blog is a labor of love, and we're going to keep it going even if we only get to post once a month. The last few months have been amazing, and I for one look forward to many more.


Nick Hirsch

Monday, November 2, 2009

Just Before Nightfall

The Dark Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural
By Patricia McKissack
Knopf, 1992

Every now and then a timeless supernatural classic comes along, one that you have to read over and over again and share with as many people as you can. The Dark Thirty, winner of the 1993 Coretta Scott King Award with black and white illustrations by Brian Pinkney, is one such book. An anthology of nine short stories and one poem, this book is an engaging collection of tales.

The title comes from that time of day just before nightfall and the stories within are perfect yarns to spin at that eerie time of day. The stories within this book are haunting, in a horror story sense as well as in a social commentary sort of way. The stories evoke the African-American experience in the south with themes ranging from slavery, segregated communities, transport (trains and buses), and 60's activism, all with a supernatural twist. The stories are written in such a way that a wide audience can be reached and mesmerized. The narratives are smooth, steady, and subtle, despite the heavy and sometimes violent themes they depict. For instance, in the story "Justice" readers are introduced to a character whose ghost returns to avenge his wrongful and horrible lynching murder by a Klansman. Sometimes these elements of our history are hard to explore with youth, but using a short story as a way to break the ice, we can start a dialogue about the haunting parts of our past in a way that is accessible and appropriate for children of a certain age.

I remember my 6th grade teacher reading this book to us, one story at a time, and I remember this was the first time my class was quiet. Pin drop quiet. Every Friday we were allowed to bring pop and gum into class, so usually we were all wound up on sugar, but the Friday afternoons when Mr. B read from this book we were all quietly and thoughtfully absorbed in the tales. This is a book I enjoyed hearing and love to read over and over and I am happy to share it with you. I hope you find it to be a powerful reading experience.