Cover image for Half-human
Coville, Bruce.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
xi, 212 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
A collection of stories about such creatures as mermaids and centaurs, who are part-human and part-animal or part-plant, and their struggles to understand their true identity.
Becoming / Nancy Springer -- Princess Dragonblood / Jude Mandell -- How to make a human / Lawrence Schimel -- Linnea / D.J. Malcolm -- Soaring / Tim Waggoner -- Water's edge / Janni Lee Simner -- Elder brother / Tamora Pierce -- Scarecrow / Gregory Maguire -- Centaur Field / Jane Yolen -- The hardest, kindest gift / Bruce Coville.
Reading Level:
730 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.2 7.0 76589.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.1 12 Quiz: 26114 Guided reading level: V.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ5 .H145 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PZ5 .H145 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Stories from noted authors, including Jane Yolen, Tamora Pierce, Nancy Springer, and others about selkies, mermaids, and other beings living in the divide between the animal and human world.

A girl is born with the fire of dragon blood in her veins and another longs for the feel of water against her skin. A scarecrow wonders at the world around him and a fallen angel tries to reclaim her family's soul.

These are the stories about the people who are not wholly human and the animals that are not purely animal--beings that stand between the two worlds feeling the emotions, thrills, and confusions of both. Their struggle will be to find their true forms, and then meaning and purpose in their lives after the choice.

Author Notes

Bruce Coville was born in Syracuse, New York, on May 16, 1950. He spent one year at Duke University in North Carolina. Coville started working seriously at becoming a writer when he was seventeen. He was not able to start selling stories right away, so he had many other jobs, including toymaker, gravedigger, cookware salesman, and assembly line worker. Eventually, Coville became an elementary teacher, and worked with second and fourth graders.

Coville married Katherine Dietz an artist, and they began trying to create books together. It wasn't until 1977 that they finally sold their first book, The Foolish Giant. They joined together on two other books after that, Sarah's Unicorn and The Monster's Ring, and followed them with Goblins in the Castle, Aliens Ate My Homework, and The World's Worst Fairy Godmother.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7-10. Mermaids, selkies, centaurs, all in contemporary settings, are part of this collection of 10 short stories by such well-known authors as Jane Yolen, Tamora Pierce, and Nancy Springer. The stories revolve around the fascinating premise of creatures that are half-human, people who are half-animal. A young girl wakes up to the ultimate bad hair day--a head of snakes. A princess must learn to resist the dragon inside her. A young man brings his 300-year-old grandmother the gift of death. With each story, an intriguing computer-manipulated photograph illustrates the individual struggle with the animal side of human nature. Younger teens will be drawn to the horror and fascination of the stories; older ones can be nudged to see the myths, fairy tales, and legends that inspired the writers. All readers, however, will be intrigued with this unusual collection of well-written fantasies that illustrate the adolescent challenge of discovering both our animal and human natures. --Frances Bradburn

Publisher's Weekly Review

Nine storytellers and a poet explore the bizarre and melancholy possibilities of being only partly human. In his introduction, Coville (the Unicorn Chronicles) admits these stories provide a "strange mirror," reflecting that part of the self that is not human. Several engaging tales of transformation, more lyric in quality, draw on fairytale or mythological conventions, such as a mermaid story by D.J. Malcolm, a tale of a tree spirit by Tamora Pierce and "Princess Dragonblood" (Jude Mandell). A pair of stories succeed as coming-of-age parablesD"Soaring" (Tim Waggoner), a tale of a modern-day Icarus set against a "traveling phantasmagoria," and "Water's Edge" (Janni Lee Simner) about a contemporary selkie. Other selections strain credibility, such as Gregory Maguire's "Scarecrow," which imagines the convoluted origins of the hero of Wizard of Oz, and Jane Yolen's "Centaur," in which a baby centaur is born in the barn of a family that names it after a departed child; however, Yolen's skill as a storyteller redeems her unusual tale. The collection closes with Coville's own complex story about an ancient woman who is half snake, yearning to be freed into mortality. These stories will likely grab the attention of readers who are exploring and developing their own sense of what it means to be human, but the tales vary in their ability to sustain readers' interest in the plight of the unusual creatures. Ages 8-14. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6 Up-In his introduction, Coville poses the question, "What is the source of this obsession with the half-humans? Why do we still, in our modern technological age, find ourselves fascinated by mermaids and their ilk?" He responds with, "Perhaps it is a recognition of our own divided nature." The 10 stories chosen for this book support this premise and are, for the most part, compelling and well written. Nancy Springer's "Becoming" gives an intriguing modern twist to the story of Medusa when 13-year-old Dusie reaches puberty and her hair turns into snakes. Tamora Pierce's "Elder Brother" explores the problems and emotions of a tree that becomes a man and the girl who befriends him. Those who have read Gregory Maguire's Wicked (HarperCollins, 1995; o.p.) will especially appreciate his "Scarecrow," which views the Wizard of Oz from still another point of view. Jane Yolen's "Centaur Field" poses the question of what would happen if a centaur were born today as a family attempts to protect their strange creature from the press and exploitation. Coville's concluding story, "The Hardest, Kindest Gift," takes on the legions of heaven and the fate of a fallen angel. These selections span a wide range of half-human creatures and will interest an even wider age range of readers.-Janet Hilbun, formerly at Sam Houston Middle School, Garland, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.