I picked up this YA anthology because it had a story by Roald Dahl -- the only story by him that has not been reprinted in any of his books. It turned out that "story" may be overstating it; "Spotty Powder" is a five-page scene that was written for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and was cut from the book for editorial reasons. It introduces (and disposes of) Miranda Piker, another golden ticket holder, along with Charlie, Mike Teevee, Veruca Salt, and Augustus Gloop. As the Oompa-Loompas described her in a song:
"Oh, Miranda Mary Piker,
How could anybody like her,
Such a Priggish and revolting little kid.
So we said, 'Why don't we fix her
In the Spotty Powder mixer
Then we're bound to like her better
Than we did.'
Soon this child who is so vicious
Will have gotten quite delicious
And her classmates will have surely understood
That instead of saying, 'Miranda!
Oh, the beast! We cannot stand her!'
They'll be saying, "Oh, how useful and now good!' "
You can tell tell that Miranda is a little blot because she has never missed a day in school in her short, obnoxious life. She is also opposed to holidays and vacations and believes children are meant to work, not play. She's a nasty one, all right, and a joy to Roald Dahl fans.
The remaining thirteen stories in the book are reprints, eleven of which I previously read -- some several times. The two that were new to me were R. L. Stine's "The Spell," in which an also-ran teenager masters the art of hypnosis and puts it to murderous ends, and Leon Garfield's "The Restless Ghost," in which a twelve-year-old boy meets his ghostly doppleganger.
- "The Spell" by R. L. Stine (first published in Thirteen: Tales of Horror, edited by Tonya Pines, 1991)
- "It's a Good Life" by Jerome Bixby (first published in Star Science Fiction Stories, Number 2, edited by Frederik Pohl, 1953)
- "'Drink My Red Blood"' by Richard Matheson (first published in Imagination, April 1951)
- "Something Nasty" by William F. Nolan (first published in The Dodd, Mead Gallery of Horror, edited by Charles L. Grant)
- "The Restless Ghost" by Leon Garfield (first published in The Restless Ghost: Three Stories by Leon Garfield, 1969)
- "The Thirteenth Day of Christmas" by Isaac Asimov (first published in The Key Word and Other Mysteries by Isaac Asimov, 1977)
- "Hush!" by Zenna Henderson (first published in Beyond Fantasy Fiction, November 1953)
- "Spotty Powder" by Roald Dahl (first -- and only -- publication in this book)
- "A Baby Tramp" by Ambrose Bierce (first published in The Wave, August 29, 1891)
- "The Man Upstairs" by Ray Bradbury (first published in Harper's, March 1947)
- "Dead Language Master" by Joan Aiken (first published in The First Panther Book of Horror, edited by Anthony Rampton, 1965)
- "Here There Be Tygers" by Stephen King (first published in Ubris, Spring 1968)
- "The Trick" by Ramsey Campbell (first published in Weird Tales #2, edited by Lin Carter, December 1980)
- "A Toy for Juliette" by Robert Bloch (first published in Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison, 1967)
Some pretty good stuff here. If you are a young reader or someone new to the field. this book will knock your socks off. If, like me, you are familiar will most of the contents, reading this will be like meeting up with old friends.