Savage, J. Scott. Case File 13: Zombie Kid
26 December 2012, HarperCollins
Nick is devastated when he and friends Carter and Angelo can't go trick or treating in their awesome zombie costumes because a great aunt that Nick has never heard of has died. Nick has to travel to his aunt's creepy old house near New Orleans instead, because his parents claim that his aunt had some "connection" to him. Nick suspects that his aunt might have been involved in some voodoo because of items he finds in her basement, and after he passes out in a crypt while in possession on a mysterious amulet, he begins to wonder if he has turned in to a zombie. Being a middle grade boy, of course, this is great news, especially when he can use his new found abilities to hold his breath and play dead to scare off the school bully. Despite the encroaching stench and occasional "brain farts" that are endemic to zombie-dom, Nick and his friends are rather enjoying the experience, until Nick starts losing body parts (Warning: pinkies in mashed potatoes are less than appetizing). When an attempt to return the amulet and reverse the zombification process fails, Nicks starts to panic. He and his friends will have to deal with more forces of evil than expected, but aided by the knowledge of a cool librarian and by the spirit of his aunt, the three manage to survive to rot another day.
Strengths: Since there are not enough zombie books to satisfy all my students, I am always glad to find a book that is just gross enough to make them happy and not so violent that I don't want it on my shelves. Like Kloepfer's Zombie Chasers, the cartoon cover belies the fairly serious zombie issues inside. I particularly liked how this brought in voodoo, how it realistically portrayed how the average middle school boy would feel about being a zombie, and how the friends worked together. Lots of nice touches make this my second favorite zombie book after Higson's The Enemy.
Weaknesses: There were no zombie parents eating brains, so this will not be violent enough for some of my boys. Actually, the only weakness is that I don't have a copy RIGHT NOW to give my readers.
Hutton, Clare. Zombie Dog (Rotten Apple #2)
1 August 2012, Scholastic.
Becky isn't happy that she moved away from her friend Charlotte and now lives on Tulip Street next to the super creepy McNally house. The upside is that she has room for her much beloved dog, Bear. She had wanted a dog for years and was allowed to get Bear only because she promised to take care of him, but something in the McNally house is making the dog afraid. There's also a horrible stench emitting from the house. There's also a creepy chihuahua with glowing green eyes menacing both her and Bear! When she has to have a partner for a school project, Becky ends up with Nate, a boy who also lives on her street. They do some research, and even visit Mrs. McNally in the nursing home, where they find out that Mrs. McNally had two dogs. One, Chichi, she had stuffed and lives with her at the home, but they other dog was the subject of her husband's experiments and was turned into a zombie. Eager to put her pet back to rest, Mrs. McNally gives the children Chichi's toy, since Mimi's toy being dug up is what precipitated the Rise of Mimi.
Strengths: This series belongs to the Goosebumps School O' Creepy-- somewhat frightening, but nothing that will ever really happen. This and the Poison Apple series are hugely popular at my school.
Weaknesses: It's going to be hard to tell a student that this is about a zombie chihuahua without snickering. Now, zombie dachshunds-- that would be scary! (Sorry. Some days Middle Grade Lit is "too much with me" and I feel like I should read something like War and Peace. Then I get a good night's sleep, see the error of my ways and read another book involving farting or football. Preferably both.)