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The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural
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The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,529 ratings  ·  136 reviews
Illus. in black-and-white. With an extraordinary gift for suspense, McKissack brings us ten original spine-tingling tales inspired by African-American history and the mystery of that eerie half-hour before nightfall--the dark thirty.
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published August 22nd 2006 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published 1992)
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3.85  · 
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 ·  1,529 ratings  ·  136 reviews

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Quentin Wallace
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow did this one surprise me. It's a collection of short horror stories, mostly based on African American folktales and set in the deep south. This was published by Scholastic, so I was expecting stories aimed at children. While technically I guess they are, the stories are much darker and mature than you'd think.

The subject matter is very dark, dealing with slavery, lynchings, civil rights violence and more. Sadly, even though it's a book of supernatural tales, the darkest parts of the stories
Lars Guthrie
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
More than a foray into the supernatural, this book connects to much of the history of African Americans' long struggle for equality from slavery to the civil rights era. It's fitting that the last story, an autobiographical "monster" tale, is about McKissack's confronting her own fears as a child. This is the second book of McKissack's I've read recently (see "Tippy Lemmey" below) and I'm sold on her. She writes with humor and depth in a style that is completely accessible to her young audience.
Oct 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One really couldn't ask for much better suspenseful, deeply wrought stories of the eerie and the supernatural than those found in this harrowing collection.

Patricia C. McKissack has struck the ideal chord in the creation of these subtly mysterious tales. She didn't take the edge off of the fright in deference to her young readers, instead allowing the full flavor of the experience to be absorbed, the individual stories speaking as powerfully as they have from the mouths of Southern raconteurs f
This is a collection of short stories of African American myths, legends and scary tales. There are creepy stories, hard stories, sad stories, scary stories and fantastic stories in here. Boo Mama is more of a Big foot story and that was very good. The Woman in the Snow is a ghost story and there are some hard truths to face in it and I liked the story a lot. 11:59 is about pullman railroad porters. The Gingi was a scary story - I mean creepy. That was good. And the Chicken-Coop Monster had some ...more
Christina Pilkington
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

A fantastic book of supernatural tales told from the perspective of African Americans from the past 50 years. Lots of creepy tales but a few heartbreaking ones, too. Each story began with a historical fact, placing it in a specific point in history. My kids were riveted to their chairs when I'd read these stories aloud. They always begged me to read just one more! A great book to read around Halloween time.
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic collection of short stories/essays.
Although this is categorized as a children's novel I would beg to differ. I think that this is very much a novel that adults can and should enjoy. There are 10 short "horror" stories/essays that revolve around black people and black cultures. McKissak has a fantastic imagination. Some stories are supernatural, some are realistic, and some are plain wacky.
I also really love the blurbs at the beginning of each story with historical or contextual bac
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
This is an outstanding collection of ten supernatural/horror stories for older youth. Author Patricia C. McKissack sets the African-American tales in the deep south, and the evocative back and white pictures by Brian Pinkney add atmosphere to these Gothic type stories. What really adds weight to the dark and spooky stories is that they are based on real happenings during the slavery era, in addition to stories on civil rights brutality and modern day lynchings. An eye-opening compilation that I ...more
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a compilation of stories from the South. The stories range from supernatural to monsters. Stories from slavery to the Jim Crow South to an autobiographical account about the authors own experience. The stories are written in a story teller form and the author states that she heard of them during the time known as the dark-thirty, half an hour before nightfall.

This was an enjoyable read. Having grown up in the rural south, I have heard of some of the stories and others in the book, I hav
I kept waiting to read a scary story. From what I had read on the front and back flaps, this book was supposed to give me goosebumps and chills, but I found most of the stories a little tame. It almost seemed as if they were all historical legends that just featured ghosts or other slightly spooky themes. There was one of two stories that were on the verge of being a little haunting, but I never felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end or anything. I read this book in one sitting, but ...more
This Newbery Honor book is one of my old favorites; I ran across it while looking for spooky stories for a Halloween program at the library. McKissack draws on traditional slave narratives and African-American folklore to create original stories that are by turns creepy, though-provoking, and enthralling. Excellent stuff.
Amy Layton
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow, what an absolutely incredible collection!  Contextualized within history and superstition, The Dark-Thirty is best read at dusk for maximum effect.  It's weird, spooky, and eerie.  There are ghosts, transformations, monsters.  Runaways, children, well-meaning parents.  But nobody is safe, not when it's dark-thirty.  

These tales were so powerful, especially McKissack's biographical one.  Not only that, but the Gingi is just perfect for kids who loved Precious and the Boo Hag and need or want
Greg Kerestan
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book for the first time in probably second grade, and thought it was cool. I loved ghost stories, and this book was full of them. Rereading it as an adult, I recognize how well-written and how SMART this book is. Though a few stories pander to the young audience, the vast majority of these stories are written, like Spielberg's "Poltergeist," for the whole family, not just for kids to appreciate. Combining Southern supernatural folklore with black American history from the Civil War t ...more
I enjoyed the African-American oral tradition here and McKissack's use of traditional tales. The horror elements are light and age-appropriate for a set of children's stories. She writes of the horrors of the Klan and slavery and living in the South in general.

My largest complaint is that I found several of the stories unengaging which is only worsened when they come directly before or after a story that is excellent. I know it's for children, but I'd love to see an updated adult version of thes
Matt Hickey
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. Thoughtful supernatural stories inspired by black history and folklore but plenty moving and clever on their own. Scratched the same very particular itch as the touching/scary Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff.
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good for short stories.
Homewood Library
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: miss-kelly, j-non-fic
Using history as a backdrop to spooky, moody, scary atmospheric tales, Patricia McKissack (RIP) has made a masterwork of American story.

Some AMAZING tales in here. The woman in the snow is one of my favorite takes on the vanishing hitchhiker tale.

The stories are short enough that you will tear through them, but some might keep you up at night, checking behind your shoulder.

But do yourself a favor and just get it.

- Miss Kelly
Feb 09, 2008 rated it liked it
This is an entertaining book with several short stories that deal with African American themes, but are very relevant to everyone. These scary stories are meant to be read during the last 30 minutes before daybreak, a time known as the "Dark Thirty".
Jul 31, 2008 rated it liked it
I'd almost forgotten this one. It's a great kids ghost-y anthology with particular roots in racial tensions in the American south. There's only a little moralizing and a lot more atmosphere, which is a nice change for a kid's short story collection.

This is a wonderful collection of African American tales of the supernatural. I enjoyed this quick read and would love to see a second volume of these folklore inspired takes. Creepy and engaging, these are a perfect read for those long winter nights.
A children's introduction to spooky stories, with a tiny bit of civil rights history sprinkled here and there. Doesn't make for good reading over the age of 10 or 11.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Got this from a friend and absolutely loved it. Gave me a deep sense of the South, and discussed the horrors of segregation as well as being interesting all the way through.
Christina Packard
Most all interesting strange stories.
Nov 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Authentic African American folklore tales told in a suspenseful manner.
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
It's probably not fair for me to give this book a rating based on only reading three stories and then abandoning the book. But I was so, so disappointed. I love historical fiction, I love spooky stories, and I was so excited by the premise of this book.

Here's where I think the problem lies. It was not spooky nor suspenseful. It was very simplistic language and writing, fit for a third or fourth grader and perhaps that is the target audience. However, I found the themes and events of the stories
Corinne Wilson
Five stars for the variety of aspects of African American history across the years we get through these stories. The use of voodoo and other old world practices, sense of oral tradition, aspirations of better work, passion for civil rights, fear of lynchings, longing for freedom, importance of family, and ownership of justice are all represented here. There are some dark parts of history, and it would make for good discussion with a kid.

Two stars for the varying quality of the stories. Some are
Wendy Morlan
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This children's book was weeded from my library and I purchased it because I liked the illustrations. The large type drew my eye, and I put the book on the reading stand of my treadmill and began reading. I barely noticed the time go by, so fascinated was I by the Patricia McKissack's tales. I researched to learn more about her and her husband, Fred, who provided research support for her stories. Over 20 years, they worked together to create many books for children intended to share the little-t ...more
Sarah Mendonca
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've scarcely come across such a clever short story collection, especially one meant for children.

Patricia C. McKissack manages to weave together real life history of rather darker moments in American history into a collection of supernatural stories. For me it really managed to capture the horror of slavery, racism and other moments in the nation's history and make them very readable.

I think every book should have a copy of this in it's library. I can't recommend it enough.
Rachel Smith
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it
From a cultural/historical standpoint, this book is highly valuable and interesting. However, for those seeking chills and thrills... perhaps not so much. I checked this book out from the library, hoping to be deliciously frightened, and I wasn't.

Since I love folklore and African American history, I wasn't entirely disappointed, but I still feel like I have to remove a couple of stars from this review for a "failure to scare".
Ms. Kelly
Using history as a backdrop to spooky, moody, scary atmospheric tales, Patricia McKissack (RIP) has made a masterwork of American story.

Some AMAZING tales in here. The woman in the snow is one of my favorite takes on the vanishing hitchhiker tale.

The stories are short enough that you will tear through them, but some might keep you up at night, checking behind your shoulder.

But do yourself a favor and just get it.
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
Good kid's book from an African-American point of view. The stories are spooky but not actually scary, and I enjoyed hearing spooky stories from a different perspective.

Recommended for children who can read chapter books and who can appreciate recognizing that someone else's world is not like theirs.
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2015 Reading Chal...: The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural 1 10 Apr 08, 2015 02:54PM  

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Patricia C. McKissack was the Newbery Honor, Coretta Scott King Award-winning author of The Dark-Thirty and Porch Lies an ALA Notable Book. She collaborated with Jerry Pinkney on Goin' Someplace Special (Coretta Scott King Award winner) and Mirandy and Brother Wind (Coretta Scott King Award winner and Caldecott Honor Book).