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)