Friday, October 7, 2011

Asian Ghost Stories and Other Spooky Asian Kidlit

When I was a little kid, I remember getting creeped out hearing the story about the guy who picks up a lady hitchhiker. The guy lets the hitchhiker wear his jacket. Then the hitchhiker disappears when the driver reaches  her house. Later he finds out she has been dead for X number of years, and when he visits her gravesite, he finds his jacket on her tombstone. You know, that one?

How 'bout feeling your heart ache over the '80s Hong Kong movie where this character played by the late Leslie Cheung falls in love with a ghost?  You know, that one? Mmm...hmm...

Ghost stories and spooky tales are pretty big in Asian cultures. With Halloween around the corner, I thought it would be fitting to share a few of the many kidlit books I've read that spotlight spook from an Asian or Asian American perspective:

A BANQUET FOR HUNGRY GHOSTS: A COLLECTION OF DELICIOUSLY FRIGHTENING TALES by Ying Chang Compestine (Young Adult- Henry Holt & Co) Each of the eight stories in this collection references a Chinese dish and the author's insight into ghosts, revenge, injustice, karma, and respect for the dead. Steamed dumplings and cannibalism.  Beef stew and illicit organ harvesting.  Egg stir-fried rice and being buried alive. 

BEHIND THE MASK by Yangsook Choi (Picture Book-Frances Foster)- A Korean American boy is haunted by his last memory of his senile grandfather, who was wearing a "scary" talchum mask worn in a traditional Korean folk dance...until the boy puts on the mask and his grandfather's old dance clothes, and  now has a Halloween costume. 


GHOST TRAIN by Paul Yee, Ilust. by Harvey Chan (Picture Book- Groundwood) Set in the 1800s, this story spotlights a Chinese girl who travels to North America to visit her father only to find out her father died in an accident while he was trying to build a railway. After boarding a ghost train to view the ghosts of the many men who sacrificed their lives to build the railway, the girl is tasked to bring the souls of the dead men back home. Check out my author interview.


THE BONE COLLECTOR'S SON by Paul Yee, (Young Adult-Marshall Cavendish) A Chinese boy living in Canada during 1907 reluctantly helps his father dig up bones of the buried Chinese so the bones could be sent back to China. When the boy and his father dig up a skeleton without a skull, bad luck strikes. The boy ends up working in a house that is haunted and confronts his fear of ghosts. The ghost stories embedded into the main story enhance the spook factor.  


BOY DUMPLINGS by Ying Chang Compestine, Illust. by James Yamasaki (Picture Book-Holiday House) A Chinese boy outsmarts a hungry Garbage-Eating Ghost who threatens to make dumplings out of him.



MORE BONES: SCARY STORIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD (Middle Grade- Viking Juvenile) This book features spooky tales from places like Spain, Scotland, Germany, and Asia. Stories include: The Severed Head (Persia) where a beheaded physician exacts revenge on the king who had wrongly condemned him, The Dangerous Dead (China), where four travelers stay at an inn and room with a homicidal corpse, The Gruesome Test (Japan) where a maiden challenges her suitor to snack on a corpse, and The Ghost of Rainbow Maiden (Hawaii) where a murdered rainbow maiden tries to find her body so she could live again. 

Feel free to add any additional books or stories to this list.


jonyangorg said...

Great post, thank you for all these recommendations!

Cynthia said...

Thank you, Jon!! Btw, I enjoyed reading Exclusively Chloe.

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