Reviews for Are You Afraid Yet? : The Science Behind Scary Stuff


Booklist Reviews 2009 March #2
Any kid who can’t help but watch scary flicks with all the lights out is going to get a chilly charge from this hand-sized horror handbook. Author O’Mearaâ€"represented in the black-and-white comic-book-style artwork as a creepy narrator with a goatee and unusually sharp teethâ€"uses classic tales of the macabre to introduce scientific concepts. Jekyll and Hyde are linked to psychoactive drugs, vampirism is connected to the rare blood disease porphyria, werewolves are blamed on hypertrichosis, and so forth. If this sounds too technical, don’t worryâ€"O’Meara is most gleeful when zinging around Freaky Facts (who knew a heart has enough pressure to blast blood 30 feet into the air?). The downside is the occasional confusing setup or layout, but the upside is that everything from real-life ­monkey-Frankensteins, modern-day mummies, killer viruses, and the life cycle of maggots is attacked with gruesome gusto. O’Meara dispels some rumors while he’s at it (Bigfoot, King Tut’s curse), and even adds in his personal UFO and ghost encounters for bonus shivers. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Fall
O'Meara intersperses anecdotes about corpses, vampires, aliens, and the like with superficial discussions about the science behind these tales and the fear they induce. Emphasis on creeping out readers can make it difficult to distinguish truth from fiction; those looking for in-depth science will have to search elsewhere, but chill-seekers will be satisfied. Black-and-white comic-style illustrations contribute to the sinister vibe. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2009 March #1
Squeamish readers beware. With great gusto and unwavering focus on the gory details, O'Meara kicks up his explanation of the causes and physiological effects of fear with an array of bugaboos, from vampires and ghosts to the guillotine ("SWIIISH!…A basket every time!") and the Ebola virus. Though he does claim to have seen a ghost, in general he displays a skeptical attitude toward supernatural phenomena, and his rational explanations of night noises around the house, for instance, may offer at least a crumb of comfort to timorous sorts. Kaposy illustrates several of the author's references to films and literature with black-and-white comics-style panels--breaking down Ichabod Crane's physical reactions to facing the headless horseman, showing Edgar Allen Poe gravely sticking a finger up his nose to demonstrate how embalmers in ancient Egypt removed a corpse's brains--and depicts the author himself as an eerily lipless narrator. Hilarious, informative and attractively creepy bait, particularly for reluctant readers. (Nonfiction. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 August

Gr 4-7--This book cleverly weaves together the supernatural and the scientific in an entertaining read that answers questions about ghosts, UFOs, vampires, werewolves, and how long a decapitated head can remain conscious. Examples depicting such things in classical fiction and popular movies are seamlessly interjected between the factual explanations. Each page is filled with detailed black-and-white illustrations, emphasizing the sometimes-humorous, yet often-macabre descriptions. This should appeal to kids who love scary stories, while introducing them to hard science and critical thinking in the process.--Donna Atmur, Los Angeles Public Library

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