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Children's Literature Reviews Item 1 of 1
The chicken-fried rat.
Cataloging in Publication
New York : HarperCollins World ; London : Hi Marketing, 1999.
112p. : ill. ; 20cm.
Deborah Stevenson (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November 1998 (Vol. 52, No. 3)) Kids are, of course, the classic purveyors and audience of urban legends, but these collections go a bit farther than the oral tradition in acknowledging the UL as a genre and their factuality as virtually nil. Jan Harold Brunvand, urban legend maven, has provided introductions for the books; they address the definition of urban legends, his history in studying them, and some classic examples. Each book then embarks on a slight narrative, wherein kids doing regular schoolkid (or vacation-kid) things end up telling stories back and forth all day. The framing device offers an opportunity for the characters to demonstrate some appropriately skeptical responses to these fictional tales told as true, but the writing is pretty limp and the arrangement is ultimately more distracting than useful. Though the tales themselves aren’t brilliantly told, they retain their old compelling charm, and young readers not up to Brunvand’s own books may welcome the source concentration, since each book has over a dozen stories. Though these lack the edge of Paul Jennings’ legendesque short stories or even Judith Gorog’s retellings, there’s a poolside swappability to these titles that makes them amiable choices for the reluctant or coasting reader. Black-and-white line drawings in comic-book style catch the campy mood of the stories. Review Code: Ad -- Additional book of acceptable quality for collections needing more material in the area. (c) Copyright 1998, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1998, HarperTrophy, 94p, $4.95. Grades 3-6.