Annotation: This macabre collection of short stories, poems and illustrations ranges from the musings of corpses to the pitfalls of having a pet tarantula.
Personal thoughts: I don’t often read collections of short stories and poems, but when I heard about this one (and saw the cover) I decided to give it a try. I have to admit that, in general, I am really not a fan of poetry/lyrical writing in book form, but I actually enjoyed this collection. It is definitely creepy and more than a little gross, but I thought many of the chapters were really clever. I hope that Nora Thompson decides to publish a second volume, or perhaps write an entire novel in the same vein as this book, because I think she has a lot of originality to bring to the genre.
Plot summary: This macabre collection of short stories, poems and illustrations ranges from the musings of corpses to the pitfalls of having a pet tarantula. Chapters run the gamut of literary styles including straight narrative style, disjointed poetry, and comic strip.
Review: Nora Thompson, the illustrator behind the-rots.com, creates her first book of flash fiction with Twisted Tales to Rot Your Brain Vol. 1. The collection is a very quick read, easy to finish in one sitting, with chapters ranging in length from one to several pages. While the entire book is, in a word, strange, the author does a good job of creating something creepy and, of course, twisted that is appropriate for the young adult audience. Readers who are familiar with the Scary Stories series or the poetry of Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky will find this collection comes across as a combination of the two. Some of the most enjoyable chapters in the book are “Hairy Eyeballs,” where the narrator must contend with a bristly hair inexplicably growing from the back of his throat, “Headache,” where it feels like something is trying to claw its way out of the narrator’s skull (and it just might be), and “Chula,” a story that will make anyone think twice about keeping a pet tarantula. Overall, any teen reader who is okay with the grossout/twisted nature of the book will find something that they enjoy in Nora Thompson’s collection. Funny, clever, and unique, the world of young adult literature has something to look forward to in Nora Thompson’s creations.
Genre: Short Stories/Poetry/Horror
Reading level: Grade 7+
Similar titles: Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz, Weenies series by David Lubar.
Themes: Black comedy, macabre, death, irony, humor.
Awards/Reviews: Positive reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.
Series Information: N/A
Discussion questions:- What was your favorite chapter in this collection? Why?
- How did the author’s use of illustrations add to the book? Do you like her artistic style?
- Did you find any of the chapters in the collection funny? Creepy? Gross?
- Describe the different writing styles Nora Thompson used in the book. Which do you like the best? The least? Why?