It seems that zombies may be menacing the town of Frederik’s Hill in this sequel to Scott’s series opener about a similarly ambiguous earthquake (Frederik Sandwich and the Earthquake That Couldn’t Possibly Be, 2018).
This middle-grade novel zips around from event planning to family reunion. The dastardly mayor is determined that the International Midsummer Festival turn out perfectly after the previous hinted-at unfortunate events. Now an army of creepy stone statues called marbles is lurking underground, and rumors of an undead invasion are spreading among an uneasy populace. Frederik bumbles around trying to set things right, visiting in turn a defunct public-transit system, the elephant house at the zoo, and a brewery. His friend Pernille, an adoptee, accompanies him while trying to find her birthparents. The storyline feels like a backfiring vehicle for a social message about xenophobia. Pernille has brown skin and white hair. Frederik, not described racially but marked as an outsider thanks to an unspecified accent, is constantly bullied by nativist youth with alliterative names. A sympathetic but stereotyped Indian “little shopkeeper” named Venkatamahesh Ramasubramanian is menaced by detectives named Mortensen and Martensen, and the queen’s arrival spurs an attempt to ethnically cleanse the town of “foreigners” through deportations. These hugely serious themes clash with the frivolous wordplay and zany antics of the child heroes, making for an uneven reading experience.
Attempting to bridge the gap between madcap and socially conscious, this follow-up fails. (Adventure. 8-12)