Half-Minute Horrors

Clever, scary collection with big-name authors.

What parents need to know

Educational value
Not applicable
Positive messages

It's hard to pinpoint a message in a book of horror stories, except there are some stories that serve as a cautionary tale against misbehaving.

Positive role models

Both positive and negative role models pepper the different stories, however they are so short the audience never really gets to know characters before it's on to the next one.


All the basics of good horror stories are here: creepy, scary scenarios, threats and instances of murder, unexplained disappearances, etc. There are some sightings of blood, but nothing truly gory.

Not applicable

Some mild name calling like "jerk," "stupid" and  "monster."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a book designed to creep kids out, but stays clear of adult content (bad language, sex, etc.). While there's no gore, stories are at times scary and unnerving and sometimes involve murder or the attempted murder of people.

Parents say

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What's the story?

Bumps in the night, playthings made real, bad friendships, wicked babysitters -- it all comes to life in this collection of wicked works by a variety of authors and illustrators. Ever wonder if your babysitter is in cahoots with the monsters under your bed? Ever have the sneaking suspicion someone is watching you? If you didn't before, you may after reading this book.

Is it any good?


HALF-MINUTE HORRORS is spooky, creepy, disturbing, and hilarious. The book is filled with quick stories and drawings whipped up to scare the pants off of every kid, and a few parents, that have the courage to open it. Readers will be hooked from the first story by Lemony Snicket and will not find a dull moment throughout the book. Each story is so quick that often the brevity is what is scary and startling. Many stories leave readers wondering what happened and it is those lingering questions that will contribute to their uneasiness.

The book does a fantastic job of keeping the fright and tension high. There is no time for the audience to recover from one frightening story before another quickly pops up to inflict more damage. Kids who love creepiness and thrive on wild tales will love this one, kids who are a bit sensitive might do well to avoid. The fast pace and easy to read style makes it a great book for brave reluctant readers.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why people like being scared sometimes. What excites you about hearing and sharing scary ghost stories?

  • What's the scariest story in the book? Why is does that story scare you the most?

  • How does violence play a role in some of the stories? Do you think violence on TV, in movies and video games affect you? How?

Book details

Authors:Holly Black, Libba Bray, M.T. Anderson, Neil Gaiman, Pseudonymous Bosch
Illustrator:Adam Rex
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:August 25, 2009
Number of pages:160
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Read aloud:9
Read alone:9

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 9 years old November 10, 2009
age 10+
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages


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