Frightful Friday-Guys Read: Thriller, Edited by John Scieszka

September 23, 2011 Frightful Friday, Kid-Lit/Middle Grade, Review, Tales of A (Formerly) Reluctant Reader 7

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week. Feel free to grab the button & join in!

Since my twelve-year-old son John & I are doing a joint review of this book, this is a very special Frightful Friday!  As many of you know, John has his own feature on my blog, Tales of A (Formerly) Reluctant Reader! So today you are getting two memes for the price of one! This week’s featured book is Guys Read: Thriller!




  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback:288 pages
  • Publisher:Walden Pond Press (September 20, 2011)
  • Source: Publisher

In the second installment of John Scieszka’s Guy’s Read Library, a host of writers delight readers with a series of pulse-pounding stories.  John & I fought over shared a copy of this book & today we’re going to share with your our favorites & why!

The Double Eagle Has Landed by Anthony Horowitz

John: I liked this one because it was pretty silly. This kid, Nick, decides he doesn’t want to go off to Australia with his parents so he sneaks off the plane & ends up staying with his big brother who claims to be a private detective, Ted Diamond. What’s funny is that Ted Diamond is a complete idiot! He’s so clueless I doubt he’ll ever solve a case!  They get called in to investigate a case only to learn they’ve been tricked. I liked it not because it was particularly thrilling or anything, but pretty hilarious! Also, when I saw this story was written by Anthony Horowitz, author of the Alex Rider series, I knew I had to read it!

Jenn: A fan of Horowitz’s writing myself, I knew going in we’d love this short story. It’s witty; it’s funny. Perfect level of engagement for a young male reader. Horowitz is clearly a kid at heart; he “gets” his readers & never fails to capture their attention.

Thad, the Ghost, and Me by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Two boys think they are going to a haunted house hosted by the local 4-H club. Turns out they had the address wrong; they are at a real haunted house, with the spirit of a young boy trying to save his family home and put it in hands of the rightful owner.

John: Ok. I’ll admit it. I don’t like ghosts. Or anything spooky. Not at all. My mother, the queen of Halloween, tries to get me to read scary stories this year and usually I turn her down. For some reason, I liked this one. It wasn’t too spooky, the ghost seemed like he was a pretty normal kid, other than the fact he was dead. I’ve never read any of Haddix’s books before but think I’ll give them a try now!

Jenn:  I’ve been trying to get John to read some of Haddix’s writing for some time now; I’ve read a few myself and I’m impressed how she turns a piece of fiction into a learning experience, providing historical detail, etc. This short story, this tiny taste of her writing, opened his eyes to something he’d never been willing to experience.  I’m hoping he really will go on to read more of her writing; I find it to be particularly fascinating.

Nate Macavoy, Monster Hunter  by Bruce Hale

Nate’s friend Jeremy goes missing. Nate’s not concerned that Jeremy has been kidnapped or anything like that. He knows, without a doubt, that something happened to Jeremy while hunting for a cryptid (creatures like Big Foot, Loch Ness monster) or something similar.  So Nate does a bit of investigating and learned of a type of cryptid native to their state: Pukwudgies.

Pukwudgies are troll-like creatures that can appear & disappear, turn themselves into whatever shape they like. It becomes Nate’s mission to track down the Pukwudgies & save his best friend, no matter what the consequences.

John: Ok, this was another one I wasn’t too sure about at first. As I said already, I’m not a fan of anything spooky. Luckily this one was just a tiny bit scary. I’m not familiar with this author’s other books but I hope to check out more of his stuff!

Jenn: How can one not like a story about two monster-hunting little boys? It’s suspenseful, leaves you hanging at the end. What more can you ask for!?


And our favorite!!

Ghost Vision Glasses by Patrick Carman

Kyle is a typical ten-year old little boy. He’s fond of weird stuff, collects things like magic tricks, fart putty, etc.  He’s taunted by the meanest kid in the neighborhood, Scotty Vincent. For some reason Kyle’s parents think they are friends, inviting Scotty & his parents to trips to their family cabin.

It is on one such trip that Kyle discovers an old set of comic books in a dusty old box. If that wasn’t cool enough, inside the comic books are offers for some pretty weird stuff, like a handshake shocker, Vulcan ears, crime detection lab, and…the ultimate….Ghost Vision Glasses. Since the comics were from the 1970s the prices for all these items were ridiculously cheap; Kyle ordered a whole list of items for just under $30.

Most of the orders he mails in are returned as undeliverable, except the order for the Ghost Vision glasses. Eventually, he receives an envelope telling him where to pick up the glasses.  They just happen to be hidden in his family’s cabin.

When he finds them they are more than he could have ever imagined. Put them on and you can see and talk to ghosts. Take them off…nada. When he puts them on for the first time, he is greeted by a particularly friendly ghost. He’s warned to only wear the glasses in the cabin. One look outside & he sees why: dozens of not-so-nice ghosts are roaming around.  As long as Kyle is willing to follow the rules, the ghost is willing to hang out in the attic with him, answering all his questions.  But then Scotty Vincent gets his hands on the glasses and does the worst thing possible: puts them on outside. He sees ghosts everywhere and begins to go crazy. Jumping in the lake is the only way to rid himself of the ghostly visions, and unfortunately the glasses themselves.

John: I know, I know. This sounds like another spooky story. It’s really not though.  Why did I like it? Because the bully gets what he deserves at the end! And hello!? Patrick Carman! I HAVE to read everything this guy writes!

Jenn: I have to admit; I did a little cheer when mean Scotty Vincent got what was due to him!  Patrick Carman is an author John has always loved, always been willing to take risks for!


Bottom line, Guys Read: Thriller is a book perfect for reluctant readers! Written by authors recognizable by young readers, they get a small tidbit of the author’s style and writing. Hopefully, as it did in John’s case, they will be inspired to read more by that author.  Highly, highly recommended. John & I can’t wait to read the next installment of Guys Read!

7 Responses to “Frightful Friday-Guys Read: Thriller, Edited by John Scieszka”

  1. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads

    Terrific joint review. Way to go, John, to read stories that you weren’t sure about but ended up liking! I’m not so sure about spooky either, but I’ll take your word for it that they aren’t too scary.

  2. Alma

    Thanks for the reviews, guys. Good insights into the different merits of the stories. Ghost vision Glasses sounds particularly clever–what a concept!

  3. Judy Schu

    I have to chuckle at John’s comments about Jenn being the “Halloween queen” and trying to get him to read the spooky books. It sounds as if your favorite would be a pick of many kids who can identify with having a bully around picking on others. The glasses are a great idea! Tis a shame they were lost…who knows? Maybe they will return in another book one of these days! Who knows who you could run into with those!

    KEEP READING! Proud of you both! Mama Judy

  1. Guys Read: Thriller edited by Jon Scieszka Book Review

    […] Reviews of Guys Read: Thriller edited by Jon Scieszka:Allison’s Book Marks Book Dads Jenn’s BookshelvesPurchase your copy of Guys Read: Thriller here. Link will take you to Amazon where I am so totally […]