Jelly-bean–flavored snack reading.

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A ZOMBIE ATE MY HOMEWORK

From the Project Z series , Vol. 1

A kid zombie escapes from a lab—and it’s not brains he’s after, just freedom.

United States government documents from 2024 tell of a top-secret human reanimation program known as Project Z. Three years later, a juvenile zombie named Norbus Clacknozzle is the first (and only) one to escape. He’s rescued by a friendly human couple—aptly named the Kinders—who bring him to their home. Under their direction, Norbus begins masquerading as a human fifth-grader. But even jeans and a T-shirt can’t hide Norbus’ pale skin, strict jelly bean diet, or ridiculously advanced vocabulary. And the pseudonym Arnold Z. Ombee is a dead giveaway. Can the Kinder family keep the secret, or will the government catch on? Greenwald breathes new life into the zombie story with a few twists and Norbus’ fresh, funny narration. Bardin’s cartoon spot illustrations add a cinematic quality that matches well with the short chapters and quick pace. Overarching messages about embracing difference are reflected by a diverse cast to complement the white Kinders and deathly white Norbus: Kiki has dark skin, Evan uses a prosthetic leg, and Sarah Anne is nonverbal. However, Sarah Anne’s participation in the conclusion tiptoes dangerously close to “pitiful disability”–trope territory.

Jelly-bean–flavored snack reading. (Science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-30592-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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