Some kids’ anthologies

The Melbourne Cup has been run but the horse I backed is still running. Oh well. I’ve got to say that even though I’ve grown up with it, there is something quite surreal about living in a state that gives its residents a public holiday for a horse race. But on to more important things… short story anthologies.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I like short stories and that I love reading short story anthologies. (See my previous posts on this topic here and here). I recently read three children’s anthologies that I thought were worth blogging about. The three anthologies I’m writing about today all have something in common — the fact that I submitted stories to them… although only two of them ended up using my stories. You win some, you lose some — and as an author I’ve developed a thick skin over the years. 🙂

Let’s start with my favourite — Under the Weather: Stories About Climate Change, edited by Tony Bradman. Originally published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books in the UK in 2009, it was released in Australia by Walker Books in early 2010. Bradman is an experienced anthologist with many books to his name, and he has done very well in gathering together a cohesive set of stories for this one. The eight stories are set in different parts of the world and take different approaches to the theme of climate change. But they are all linked by a sense of optimism and hope… that no matter how bad things get, there is always something that people can do, if only they would try.

Next up we have Worlds Next Door, edited by Tehani Wessely and published here in Australia by the small press FableCroft Publishing. This anthology contains 25 speculative fiction stories aimed at children. This is the anthology to which my submission was rejected. But I’m okay with that, as they have a terrific line up of stories. Although some are better than others, there are no clunkers in there. I’ve already reviewed this book on the Australian Spec Fic in Focus website and fellow Boomerang Books blogger Dee White has also written about this book on Kids’ Book Capers. So, I’ll move on to the next anthology…

Short and Scary, edited by Karen Tayleur and published by Black Dog Books. This is an odd little anthology. Although I did enjoy it, I didn’t love it… and I did so want to love it. There are some really great little stories in this, including Sheryl Gwyther’s “Corn Dolly Dead”, Sally Rippin’s “Bonnikins” and Shirley Marr’s “Destiny Meets Girl”. But I found that too many of the stories just didn’t do it for me. I realise the book is called Short and Scary, but some of the stories were just too short — feeling under-developed and leaving me thinking, “damn, this could have been really good if it were only a little bit longer”. But it is a valiant effort and there is still much to enjoy within these pages, including some good poetry and some creepy illustrations.

Even though Under the Weather is my favourite of the anthologies, my absolute favourite story from all three is “The Best Dog in the World” by Dirk Flinthart in Worlds Next Door. It’s science fiction, but with an emotional core — a story to make kids ponder if the end can justify the means; a story that almost had me in tears.

So there you have it, my thoughts on three recent anthologies. Has anyone else out there read these books? Leave a comment and let us know if you agree with my assessment, or if you think I’m way off base.

And tune in next time for a post about autographed books.

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitter… my tweets are shorter than your average short story.


There are worlds where ships take travellers through space like taxis. Worlds where your worst nightmare destroys your greatest dreams. Worlds where magic makes the rules. What you have here is not a book, but a key to worlds that exist under your bed, in your cupboard, in the dark of night when you’re sure you’re being watched. what you have is a passport to the worlds next door.

(from the publisher’s website)

Prepare for the funny, the spooky and the totally bizarre in Worlds Next Door, a collection of short stories for kids edited by Tehani Wessely and published by Fablecroft.

Worlds Next Door is an anthology of eery, weird and spine tingling speculative fiction stories for 9-13 year olds. The stories range from fantasy and scary, to weird and wonderful sci-fi, and they feature kids in some strange and potentially life-threatening situations.

The settings are also diverse from space travel to Mars, to Medieval and modern worlds. And so many fascinating and terrifying creatures creep onto the pages and into the reader’s mind. There are giant snails, genetically affected poodles, dinosaurs, dragons, a horde of techs, a goat, a kelpie with special powers and as you’d expect, a generous dose of ghosts and aliens.

I love the diversity of this collection. Each story has suspense and strong narrative to keep you turning the pages until the often-surprising end. The stories are in bite sized portions so you can read a complete piece in one sitting and this is great for reader confidence; particularly with reluctant readers.

I also liked that Worlds Next Door places no limits on the imagination; that kids can be transported to worlds they never dreamed of visiting and their imaginations are allowed free reign.

There are twenty-five stories by both well-known and emerging writers, guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat.
Contributors to the collection are: Joanne Anderton, RJ Astruc, Jen Banyard, Jenny Blackford, Launz Burch, Sue Bursztynski, Matthew Chrulew, Paul Collins, Leith Daniel, Rowena Cory Daniells, Felicity Dowker, Aidan Doyle, Thoraiya Dyer, Dirk Flinthart, Pamela Freeman, Edwina Harvey, Kathleen Jennings, Martin Livings, Gaston Locanto, Dave Luckett, Bren MacDibble, Geoffrey Hugh Miller, Dale Newman, Michael Pryor, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Kaia Landelius, Angela Rega, Matthew Shires, Angela Slatter, Peter Turner and  Kaaron Warren.

The anthology lends itself to being used in the classroom and teachers’ notes are available from

They include a list of listening, reading and creative writing, poetry and assorted activities to keep students engaged.

Worlds Next Door will inspire young writers to create imaginative and compelling stories of their own.



Win your own copy of Worlds Next Door by telling us in the comments section of this post about the weirdest, scariest or funniest thing that has ever happened to you…