Four African-American fourth-graders have to lay aside their quarrels to save the Earth from an invasion of icy zombies.
Storywise, Bass doesn’t try for anything complicated or, for that matter, particularly logical. Having dropped a very important ring in the halls of Thurgood Cleavon Wilson Elementary, giant ice king Zenon threatens nerdy narrator Bakari Katari Johnson with a planetary invasion to get it back. Bakari is mystified until he spots the ring on the finger of classmate Keisha, mouthy mouthpiece for smug all-star athlete/teachers’ pet Tariq. It all sets off a round of squabbles and hall and lunchroom fracases with shambling zombie minions, a visit to Zenon’s icy dimension, and finally a bit of magic using the ring and a special marble that Bakari just happens to have from his granddad to close the gates to the Zombie Zone forever. Along with Bakari’s chubby best friend, Wardell, the young folk go from enemies to allies by the end. Craft tucks in lots of fluidly drawn scenes featuring purse-lipped students with oversize heads, jagged-edged attackers and the aforementioned ring in action.
Rote of plot and themes but with a (human) cast that does address a definite lack in the largely lily-white throngs of middle-grade fantasies. (Fantasy. 9-11)