Sunday, September 25, 2016

Frightlopedia

Frightlopedia
written by Julie Winterbottom; illustrated by Stefano Tambellini
2016 (Workman Publishing)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

One sting can kill a human. If you survive a sting, you have Irukandji syndrome to look forward to: It causes body pain, nausea, and a feeling of impending doom. 

If you dare to read this book, I suggest you do it in full daylight. Say 9:00 in the morning. This is not a book to keep on your nightstand. It's an A-Z horn of plenty of horror. Don't believe me? Read about the Island of the Dolls. This is a small island near Mexico City that was populated by a single man. He found a doll floating in water one day and decided to hang it from a tree in memory of a deceased girl. Then he found more dolls in trash piles and began putting them all around the island. Visitors also contributed to this dystopian doll vision which added to the alarming ambience of the island. Thousands of dolls, many with missing limbs, looking down at you. EEEYAHHHH! That's only one of the many "eww-inspiring" entries that you will find in the Frightlopedia. You know about Venus flytraps, but are you aware of the Nepenthes plant? Similar to a pitcher plant, it captures mice, rats, lizards, and even birds. One such plant in France produced a smell so foul that visitors to the botanic garden raised complaints. Seems a partially digested mouse was a victim of the Nepenthes. In addition to the nonfiction nightmares, spine-tingling stories are interwoven throughout the book. One such tale is of the mujina which is a Japanese phantom. This ghost story will not help you face your fears.

Frightlopedia is the textual version of a roller coaster ride. At first, you wonder why in the world you are reading it. Then, you want to put it away, but you can't. The harness is locked and you have made a commitment to this ride. You're scared as you go through the loops and dives of these entries, but the thrill is so big that you don't dare stop. When you're finished, you're breathless, but exhilarated and ready to go again. Students who are reluctant to pick up other books may find a different reaction to this book. It's got the weird factor that makes you want to share with others, which is a big deal with reading. If you care to share, you'll keep reading. With Halloween approaching, Frightlopedia would be a fun read-aloud with older students. I would challenge them to determine if the entry is fiction or nonfiction. Scare up a thrilling reading experience by finding a copy of the Frightlopedia.

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