Guys Read: Heroes and Villains

Guys Read: Heroes and Villains

 
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Guys Read: Heroes and Villains
Heroes and Villains, the seventh volume in Jon Scieszka’s Guys Read Library of Great Reading, is chock-full of adventure featuring an array of characters—with and without capes.

Featuring ten all-new, original stories that run the gamut from fantasy to comics to contemporary adventure to nonfiction, and featuring eleven of the most acclaimed, exciting writers for kids working today, this collection is the perfect book for you, whether you use your powers for good—or evil.

Authors include Laurie Halse Anderson, Cathy Camper and Raúl Gonzalez, Sharon Creech, Jack Gantos, Christopher Healy, Deborah Hopkinson, Ingrid Law, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Lemony Snicket, and Eugene Yelchin, with illustrations by Jeff Stokely.

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How do you define 'hero' and 'villain'?

These collections are a great way to introduce readers to a lot of authors they may not know, and encourage them to pick up other books if they like a particular author or story. Most of the stories do showcase the authors' particular styles and frequent themes, although sometimes authors use this opportunity to depart a bit from their norm.

The Jeff Stokely illustrations reminded me of Leonard Shortall's illustrations for Sobol's orignal Encyclopedia Brown (1963) books.

Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and San Souci's Dare to Be Scared books are great for scary short stories, but it's hard to find collections of short stories on other topics, so the Guys Read franchise is an excellent place to find quality examples of the genre.

Good Points
This seventh collection of short stories by different authors, edited by Guys Read founder and generally fabulous Guy, Jon Scieszka, offers a wide range of interpretations of both heroes and villains. While some are goofy and full of fantasy elements (Healy's The Villain's Guide to Being a Hero covers more information about villain Deeb Rauber; Anderson's General Poophead offers an odd look at Benedict Arnold conversing with a Valkyrie, and Law's The Warrior and the Knave involves the hero getting sucked into an alternative dimension where he must save the day through a black-hole vacuum-vortext thingy inside a locker), the stand out stories cover more real life incidents.

Munoz Ryan's First Crossing depicts a young boy and his father trying to make the journey from Mexico to the US using a coyote; Yelchin's Kalash shows the interaction between a young Russian boy and his brother who has just gotten out of the army, and Hopkinson's How I Became Stink Daley offers the fascinating account of an impoverished boy with a love of drawing who must take a job at a dairy and ends up exposing unhygienic practices there.

There is a graphic short story as well, Camper's The Wager with illustrations by Raul the Third, that shows two boys' struggles with the Bogeyman and el Cucuy during the night. The rest of the book is rounded out by continuations of similar stories authors must enjoy. Lemony Snicket discusses finding a royal baby and being accused of kidnapping him, Creech's Need That Dog covers another story of a boy who wants to have a dog, and Gantos' How My Mother Was Arrested for Murder revisits the Florida setting of The Trouble in Me.
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