Quick Fixes: Short Stories and Poems for the Reading Commitment-Phobe

Selected and annotated by Melissa Albarran
April 2014

Fairy tales, mythology, science fiction, poetry and more can be found within this compilation of short story anthologies and poetry collections. For grades 4 and up.


Aronson, Marc and Charles R. Smith Jr., ed. One Death, Nine Stories. Candlewick, 2014. 153 p. Gr. 9-12.
The death of Kevin Nicholas, age 19, prompts those who knew him, and a few who did not, to reflect on who Kev was and who they are as they continue on after his untimely passing. Each story explores the impact the death of a young person can have on the world around them and how loss stimulates the desire to live a meaningful life.

Aronson, Marc and Charles R. Smith Jr., ed. Pick-Up Game: A Full Day of Full Court. Candlewick, 2011. 170 p. Gr. 7-12.
In this anthology of short stories that revolve around a single day in the Cage, the famous Greenwich Village basketball court, authors create story lines that weave together and characters that flit in and out of subsequent tales. Mimicking a pick-up game’s ebb and flow, these nine stories may be read independently or as a cohesive work.

Atkins, Jeannine. Borrowed Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters. Holt, 2010. 209 p. Gr. 7 up.
The lives of three famous women and their relationships with their daughters are explored in this book of free verse poetry. Atkins manages to pay tribute to the famous women as well as create sympathy for the daughters who struggle to create an imprint on the world while under the shadows of their successful mothers.

Black, Holly and Ellen Kushner, ed. Welcome to Bordertown: New Stories and Poems of the Borderlands. Random House, 2011. 528 p. Gr. 9-12.
Authors that grew up reading Bordertown stories revisit the border between the human world and Faerie. Short introductions supply readers with basic background knowledge of the older stories and a range of formats (short story, poem and graphic novel) add variety to the collection.

Black, Holly and Justine Larbalestier, ed. Zombies vs. Unicorns. McElderry, 2010. 418 p. Gr. 9-12.
Nerdfighters will rejoice when presented with an anthology that pits the flesh-eating undead against shimmering, magical equids. Black leads Team Unicorn into battle against Team Zombie, headed by Larbalestier. Though walking corpses overcome in the end, the battle between stories contains humor, horror and heroics on both sides.

Buckell, Tobias and Joe Monti, ed. Diverse Energies. Tu/Lee & Low, 2012. 314 p. Gr. 9-12
Tobias Buckell expresses the need for diverse books in his introduction to this anthology of speculative fiction short stories. This multicultural collection aims to fill the gap in young adult literature, with a variety of characters from an array of backgrounds and cultures, all struggling to gain control of their lives and overcome seemingly impossible challenges.

Carroll, Emily. Through the Woods. McElderry, 2014. 208p. Gr. 7-10.
In this collection of five horror stories, Emily Carroll writes and illustrates chilling tales that echo fairy tales but manifest a more unsettling nature. Carroll excludes depictions of the horrors, granting imaginations free rein to create personalized monstrosities. At the end of each tale, readers may experience an unreasonable dread to look over their shoulders.

Datlow, Ellen and Terri Windling, ed. The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People. Viking, 2010. 504 p. Gr. 7-12.
In their fourth installment of “mythic fiction,” Datlow and Windling’s anthology of mythological and fantastical fiction revolves around therianthropic figures, beings capable of shape-shifting between animal and human form. Inspired by legends of transformation from around the world, this collection examines the age-old fascination with the link between animals and humans.

Flake, Sharon G. You Don’t Even Know Me: Stories and Poems about Boys. Jump at the Sun, 2010. 195 p. Gr. 7-10.
This collection of poems and short stories explores the experiences, struggles and emotions found within the lives of urban boys. Readers will meet memorable characters including Tow-Kaye, plagued by fear and indigestion after marrying the love of his life, and La’Ron, a boy from the Midwest who moved to New York, writing to tell his uncle that he was diagnosed with HIV.

Gray, Keith, ed. Losing It. Carolrhoda Lab, 2013. 194 p. Gr. 9-12.
There are many different scenarios in which virginity is “lost.” Ten YA authors explore this range of possibilities and the social context that surrounds the line between virgin and not. Some stories are filled with humor, others with nostalgia, regret, or feigned nonchalance, but all examine the spectrum of emotions that accompany “the first time.”

Heppermann, Christine. Poisoned Apples. Greenwillow, 2014. 114 p. Gr. 10 up.
Christine Heppermann’s fairy-tale influenced poems critique the norms and practices of society that harp on female appearances and shame girls into reaching for an impossible image of perfection. Accompanied by equally perceptive and pointed photographs, Hepperman’s potent poetry lingers long after reading.

Link, Kelly and Gavin J. Grant, ed. Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales. Candlewick, 2014. 467 p. Gr. 9-12.
These fifteen original stories explore the meaning of “monster” and why it is attributed to the unknown and the unfamiliar, with each author adopting a different interpretation of the word. Traditional monsters are included, as well as an examination of humans-as-monsters. Contributors include Holly Black, Cassandra Clare and M. T. Anderson.

Link, Kelly and Gavin J. Grant, ed. Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories. Candlewick, 2011. 420 p. Gr. 9-12.
These steam-powered stories share a steampunk foundation while avoiding the commonly used Victorian London backdrop. Locales range from an alternative old Wild West to ancient Rome as each story explores the definition, boundaries, and elasticity of the steampunk genre.

Marr, Melissa and Kelley Armstrong, ed. Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions. Harper/HarperCollins, 2011. 452 p. Gr. 8-12.
In this collection born from the Smart Chicks Kick It tour, Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong gather tales from fourteen noted authors that explore the importance of the journey to human development and resilience. The tales are rife with paranormal tropes and fantasy elements, and readers will find some of their favorite authors, as well as some writers they may wish to check out.

Marr, Melissa and Tim Pratt, ed. Rags & Bones. Little, 2013. 356 p. Gr. 7-10
Award-winning and best selling authors, such as Garth Nix, Holly Black and Neil Gaiman, strip down their favorite classic short stories and reimagine them for a new generation of readers. The original “bones” of each tale are not necessary for understanding or enjoyment, but comparing the new and old may pique reader interest.

Perkins, Stephanie, ed. My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2014. 321 p. Gr. 6-10.
Twelve tales of holiday-centered romance make up this seasonally themed collection from YA authors such as Rainbow Rowell, David Levithan, and Holly Black. In tales of realism and fantasy, love blooms from the season’s many holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, and the Winter Solstice.

Pratchett, Terry. Dragons at Crumbling Castle and Other Tales. Clarion, 2015. 337 p. Gr. 4-6.
Written in Pratchett’s teen years and published in his local paper, these short stories share his unique humor and pithy, playful way with words. From wizards to taxi drivers to the abominable snowman, this collection of early stories is a lively and welcome reminder of the author’s contribution to children’s literature.

Ryan, Carrie, ed. Foretold: 14 Stories of Prophecy and Prediction. Delacorte, 2012. 351 p. Gr. 7-10.
Predictions come true and prophecies are fulfilled in this collection of short stories that range from science fiction to romance, reparative to vindictive. Each tale’s prognosis comes to pass either intentionally or accidentally, by magic or determination, but never as expected.

Scieszka, Jon, ed. Guys Read: The Sports Pages. Walden Pond/HarperCollins, 2012. 245 p. Gr. 4-7.
Jon Scieszka compiles ten original stories, written by noted authors and two members of the sports industry (an athlete and a sportscaster), to fulfill the Guys Read series’ literary objective of engaging boy readers with stories tailored to their interests. The World Series, wrestling, track and hockey are all topics in this lively collection of athletic action.

Stiefvater, Maggie, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff. The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories. Carolrhoda Lab, 2012. 291 p. Gr. 7-10.
Interested in honing their craft, these three authors began a blog in 2008 so they could share and critique one another’s work. This collection of short stories includes some of the tales born from www.merryfates.com, as well as short stories written outside of the trio’s project. Brief introductions to each story and handwritten commentary allow readers a glimpse into the authors’ relationships and their writing processes.

Strahan, Jonathan, ed. Life on Mars: Tales from the New Frontier. Viking, 2011. 333 p. Gr. 9 & up.
The mysterious planet Mars has inspired tales of exploration and habitation for generations, and Strahan has compiled a collection of Mars centered original tales directed towards teens. Stories range from a survival account to a sociopolitical commentary to a reflection on the human condition, but the themes of isolation and exploration resonate across the anthology.

Strahan, Jonathan, ed. Under My Hat: Tales From the Cauldron. Random House, 2012. 413 p. Gr. 7-10.
Inspired by the late Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, Strahan gathers eighteen authors to share tales of sorcery in this collection of flying brooms and pointed hats. Young adult and fantasy authors share their bewitching stories of cauldrons, spells and what makes a witch a witch. This witch’s brew of tales range from witty to sweet, perfect for readers fascinated by witchcraft and hocus-pocus.

Telep, Trisha, ed. Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love. RP Teens/Running Press, 2010. 430 p. Gr. 7-10.
Paranormal love, from romance to familial to self-love, abounds in this collection of thirteen original tales. Telep gathers stories that avoid conventional love and embrace the darkness and danger that lurk behind lust, passion and devotion. The collection offers a range of authors not commonly found in anthologies and a variety of writing styles, so fantasy fans are likely to find something that will pique their interest.

Van Allsburg, Chris. The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: 14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tales. Houghton, 2011. 202 p. Gr. 4-7.
Inspired by Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, fourteen authors have each created a story to accompany a chosen illustration. A single caption and freedom of the imagination allow authors such as Stephen King, Cory Doctorow, Lois Lowry, and Gregory Maguire to use Harris Burdick’s drawings to explore the world beyond his illustrations.

What You Wish For: A Book for Darfur. Putnam, 2011. 266 p. Gr. 6-9.
Created in cooperation with the Book Wish Foundation, this collection of short stories from noted authors explores the act of wishing, the aftermath of wishes come true, and cautionary tales of wishing for too much. Retold fairy tales mingle with original stories, offering a variety of options for readers with differing interests.