Monday, September 18, 2006

What are you afraid of?

Gallo, Donald R. ed., 2006. What Are You Afraid Of? Stories About Phobias.

With contributions from authors such as Neal Shusterman, Kelly Easton, Gail Giles, Jane Yolen, Nancy Springer, David Lubar, Angela Johnson, Joan Bauer, Ron Koertge, and Alex Finn, WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF? is an incredible collection of short stories gathered around a central theme: phobias. You might be expecting to read a book about teens with a fear of spiders, heights, dentists, or one of the other 'common' phobias represented in the media.

In "The Door" Alex Flinn introduces us to Cameron whose phobia has grown increasingly worse until he cannot leave the house. What started out as a fear of going to school--after an incident with the school bully--slowly became a fear of leaving his neighborhood, then of leaving his yard, until finally he cannot even open his front door.

In "Calle de Muerte" Ron Koertge introduces us to Robert whose phobia is crossing the street. But with the help of a new neighbor--a young teen girl in a wheel chair--he is closer to getting off the curb than ever before.

In "Thin" Joan Bauer introduces us to a Deenie whose fear is gaining weight. Can she recognize the danger she is putting herself in before it's too late?

In "D'arcy" Angela Johnson introduces us to James whose phobia some readers may not be all that familiar with--string. But readers will see the extent of his phobia when he falls in love with D'arcy who loves to knit.

In "Claws and Effect" David Lubar introduces us to Randy whose phobia is cats. After a traumatic childhood experience, he has a lingering fear. But when his new girlfriend introduces him to "Johnny Depp" he has a choice...face his fear or lose the girl of his dreams.

In "Rutabaga" Nancy Springer introduces us to Lydia whose phobia is knives and sharp objects. With the help of friends, can she finally uncover the true source of her fear and overcome it once and for all?

In "Bang, Bang, You're Dead" Jane Yolen and her daughter Heidi E.Y. Stemple introduce us to Josh whose fear is speaking in public. Living in the shadow of his brother, Aaron, can Josh ever hope to succeed academically. . .especially since one of the requirements for completing 11th grade is making a speech in English class . . . and possibly the whole town if he is chosen to perform on Declamation Night.

In "No Clown Zone" Gail Giles introduces us to Will whose phobia is clowns. Once again the book shows a boy's phobias getting in the way of his love life. But are clowns really the only thing standing in his way?

In "Instructions for Tight Places" Kelly Easton walks the reader through what an elevator ride feels like to a person who is claustrophobic.

In "Fear-For-All" Neal Shusterman introduces us to Gavin whose enrollment at Bleakhaven Academy is a puzzlement to all--since he is the only student without a phobia--until one day his worth, his fearlessness, becomes terrifyingly clear to everyone.

The stories are well written and enjoyable. Common themes in the stories include friendship, first love, self-esteem, and self-acceptance.
The 24 Hour Phobia Clinic


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