Guest Author - Justin Daniel Davis
The Curse of the Campfire Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales, published by Tor Books, is the third and latest installment in David Lubarís popular Campfire Weenies series geared towards children. The collection of thirty-five stories is a mixture of horror, humor, and just plain weird tales.
From a modern-day witch-hunt with a twist to ghosts and monster spiders, the book is fairly eclectic and still mild enough for younger readers to enjoy. Lubar relies heavily on the proven tactic of the setup storyline with the punch or twist ending. Particularly effective examples of Lubarís use of this style are the short stories The Soda Fountain, Predators, and Alexander Watches a Play, tales that highlight Lubar as a capable and imaginative author who provides meat and substance in most of his work. Predators, for instance, takes a bold and unflinching look at the potential dangers that the internet poses to our children (with a creative turn, of course), a subject likely more horrifying to the readerís parents than to the child reading it. Several of the stories included in this children horror anthology are well crafted and effectively set an appropriate tone of the eerie and the bizarre.
Some of tales in The Curse of the Campfire Weenies seem a little redundant while others appear superfluous. Although David Lubar is skilled at imbedding age-old wisdom into stories that are no more than two or three pages long, others seem to lack the authorís energy or meaning, functioning instead as filler pieces that the reader may view with indifference. These stories in particular lack the charisma and the charm that is usually typical of Lubarís writing. At times, Lubarís yarn unfolds a little too neatly. A lot is expected of a childrenís writer; younger audiences are far cleverer than many adults give them credit for. While Lubar is generally not a victim to writing down to kids, stories like You Are What You Eat, while perhaps cute, suggest that the author is not sure what age group he is writing for; if heís trying to hit Kindergarten through Ninth Grade reading levels, heís perhaps being a little too ambitious. On the positive, parents are likely to find something appropriate for their kids to read within The Curse of the Campfire Weenies.
While not striking in their originality, the tales included in The Curse of the Campfire Weenies are, for the most part, fun to read and compliment each other well. Parents and children alike are sure to find a story or two lurking within this generally entertaining childrenís horror anthology that appeals to them.