NO SWIMMING IN DARK POND AND OTHER CHILLING TALES by Judith Gorog (Philomel Books: $13.95, 111 pp.; 9 and older). Judith Gorog writes her imaginative, poetic tales with a simplicity that quickly moves each story directly to its startling conclusion. Her stories were designed to be told and retold, some of them based on myths and campfire tales of the past. Unfortunately, because each story in this collection is highly intriguing, the word "chilling" in the title is a misnomer and could disappoint young readers who expect the stories to be frightening enough to cause a few shivers.
The title story, "No Swimming in Dark Pond," in which a possessive, elderly woman sets out to drive others away by inventing a horrible something that lives in Dark Pond, does have a good, creepy campfire ending, as do "Hookman," a horror story that has been told through the years in various forms, and "Nemesis," a marvelously imaginative tale about look-alikes whose chance meetings result in horrific occurences. Yet "Family Vacation" is a humorous story about a family that spends each vacation sponging not only on friends, but even strangers; "Will" is as filled with visual imagery as a poem; "How I Kill My Stepmothers" is a sad, psychological study of a lonely, misguided child; and "Dr. Egger's Favorite Dog" and "Mr. Randolph" are the kind of wonderfully gossipy stories that people love to repeat.