Who doesn’t love zombies??? Well, ok, I don’t… but as I’m always looking for books to appeal to the Reluctant Boy Reader, this was a very welcome addition to my Cybils reading.
Zero Degree Zombie Zone by Patrik Henry Bass. Illustrated by Jerry Craft. Scholastic, 2014.
Bakari Katari Johnson is in a pickle: his best friend Wardell has signed him up to run for hall monitor, an elected position currently held by the deservedly popular Tariq Thomas. His superiority is enforced by his cousin Keisha, who is angelic towards adults and as mean as it takes to get her way to kids. When Bakari steps out into the hall to escape the situation, things get worse: the giant ice king Zenon tells him bring back his ring, or else! Zenon has ice zombies and can take Bakari to his evil ice world. Bakari doesn’t know anything about the ring to start with, but the situation puts the special granite marble his grandfather gave him at risk. And he and Wendell may actually have to work with Tariq and Keisha…
There were lots of things that I liked about this book. I liked the all-African-American school, and that there was a nice resolution of the school plot as well as the zombie plot, with actually useful advice on the election situation (see Charlotte’s review). I appreciated, especially in a book perfect for third- and fourth-grade kids, that the exciting zombie action was free of blood and zombie slime. The illustrations by Jerry Craft are plentiful and done in a confident cartoon style. On the down side, there’s never any explanation of how the zombie king ended up in Bakari’s elementary school in the first place, and the book in general doesn’t have the depth that older middle grade students or adult readers of children’s literature would want. But for young or reluctant readers needing some enticing zombie fighting grounded in a relatable school situation and wrapped up in 130 pages, this is a fine choice. My son is reading it to himself right now.