Collection of stories celebrate freaks

Freak. Weirdo. Just because your hair isn’t long (or is) and you wear make-up (or don’t) and have a piercing (or several). Just because you happen to like clothing that’s nothing like what most of your classmates wear. Just because you value your individuality, you hear those words whispered as you walk through the halls.

Words that follow you like leaves in the wind of a passing car—Freak, whack job.

You’re not alone. In the new book Sideshow by various authors and edited by Deborah Noyes, you’ll meet some people just like you. People who are a little bit different.

It’s 1924 and Tia Nafretiri dances the shimmy in front of sarcophagi just the way Mama taught her. Though the sideshow giantess and the bearded lady scoff at her theatrics, Tia knows her tale brings customers coming back. But in The Mummy’s Daughter by Annette Curtis Klause, there are a few things Tia doesn’t know.

When money is tight and all you can afford to do is watch TV, it’s easy to get wrapped up in a fanciful tale. In Those Psychics on TV by Vivian Vande Velde, young Cody and his mother finally get a chance to meet someone they’ve seen on television. Because they’re skeptical, they try to set her up to prove she’s a fraud. But could the psychic’s words be dead-on?

Now that school’s back in session, it can be hard for teens to find time for something that’s not class-related. Sideshow is a book they’ll make time for.

Editor Deborah Noyes explains, in her introduction, the history behind “freaks.” A hundred years ago or more, being put on display was sometimes the only way to make a living if you were born less than perfect and, although it surely seems cruel now, “the sideshow was America’s most popular form of entertainment” until the 1940s.

In this book, ten authors—three of them, also illustrators—bring the creepy and macabre to readers hungry for a few shivers. Each is quick to read and features kids who are “wondrous strange” in situations that are even stranger.
If you’re too old to go trick-or-treating but you still need a treat, find a copy of this book and enjoy. Sideshow is pretty freaking good.