word craft


Strange Happenings

Strange Happenings

Har­court, 2006

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Five Tales of Transformation

What’s this book about?

Chil­dren become cats and birds, a once-invis­i­ble young woman pieces her­self back togeth­er, and the iden­ti­ty of a mys­te­ri­ous base­ball mas­cot is uncovered—all with­in this eclec­tic col­lec­tion from mas­ter sto­ry­teller Avi. By turns chill­ing, ethe­re­al, and sur­re­al, these thought-pro­vok­ing tales are sure to engage any­one who has ever won­dered what it would be like to become someone—or some­thing—else.

Story Behind the Story

Avi writes: This col­lec­tion of short stories—my second—was built upon an ear­li­er, small­er col­lec­tion, Tom, Babette & Simon. In this col­lec­tion, the orig­i­nal sto­ries were rewrit­ten and added to, so as to cre­ate this expand­ed edi­tion. I always find writ­ing short sto­ries a chal­lenge and a delight. To write a good one is very hard. A good short sto­ry reveals a great deal with brief strokes. A good short sto­ry sug­gests more than is actu­al­ly on the page. And final­ly, I think, a good short sto­ry, must bring the read­er to a place which con­cludes the tale, and sug­gests some deep final­i­ty about the life of the char­ac­ters. More­over, the short­ness of the sto­ry cre­ates its own ten­sion. Every word, every sen­tence must reveal much.

Awards and Recognition

  • Chil­dren’s Choice nom­i­nee, California
  • Chil­dren’s Choice nom­i­nee, Oklahoma


“… the pieces are vivid­ly imag­ined and shot through with a cap­ti­vat­ing, edgy spook­i­ness, which, along with their brevi­ty and some droll, crack­ling dia­logue, makes them great choic­es for shar­ing aloud in class or as inspi­ra­tion in cre­ative-writ­ing units.” (Book­list)

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