Given that it is Halloween in the United States today, the book bunnies thought about doing something different. Today Sprinkles reviews a handful of children’s books about zombies! VERY SCARY!! And to be honest not all of these are appropriate for children, even though they are published in a children’s book format. But hey, it is Halloween, and we’ve got to try to be scary, right? So here goes.
As adult bunnies go, I am pretty much a scaredy cat. I do not much enjoy horror movies or novels or short stories. I avoid the genre altogether if I can. Zombies are the one exception. I find them fascinating. From its historical Caribbean and possibly African origins, to the intriguing role it plays in the philosophy of the mind, the zombie is not merely a popular culture icon with a pathological obsession for human brains, but in my opinion an enduring concept that raises significant questions about what it means to be human.
The little bunnies in our household do not yet share my fascination with zombies. However, this has not stopped me from collecting through the years a handful of zombie books that at least seem to be intended for young readers. In this post, I will share my candid opinion about these five books: That’s Not Your Mommy Anymore: A Zombie Tale by Matt Mogk and Aja Wells, The Girl’s Guide to Zombies: Everything Vital about These Undead Monsters by Jen Jones, Zombies Hate Stuff by Greg Stone, Ten Little Zombies: A Love Story by Andy Rash, and Pat the Zombie: A Cruel Spoof by Aaron Ximm and Kaveh Soofi.
Let me begin with That’s Not Your Mommy Anymore: A Zombie Tale by Matt Mogk and Aja Wells. This is a book written in rhyme and starts sweet:
Mommy has the kindest eyes. Mommy likes to bake you pies.
And then something happens to mommy and she is transformed into the scary zombie from the standard zombie movies. We do not see how she is infected, but we discover with the boy, how she becomes a mindless zombie. The book is a picture book really, but the pictures get gorier and more disturbing on each page. Reading this with young bunnies could possibly be traumatizing; especially if the child is already worried occasionally about losing a parent, it would be probably parental malpractice to read it to them. However if you have a young bunny who finds horror fascinating, they might actually enjoy this little gem. Otherwise this is likely more appropriate for the teenage crowd who might have fond memories of having read rhyming picture books but also have a budding interest in zombies and other gory stuff.
Next on my list is The Girl’s Guide to Zombies: Everything Vital about These Undead Monsters by Jen Jones. This is a slim hardcover book published in the Girls’ Guides to Everything Unexplained series, which contains books on vampires, werewolves, and wizards. This one is full of pop culture references (though some, like the one about Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, might be somewhat too old for contemporary readers), and offers a lot of information about zombies both in history and in the media. As most books directed at girls assume girls like quizzes, this one, too, has a quiz: Which Type of Zombie Are You? To make sure you are a human, you apparently need to like geometry and California (I am good with both of those!) and strawberry lip gloss (not sure about this one…) All in all, though, this one would really be suitable for the age group it seems to be intended for: the young reader who wants to know what the fuss is about these things called zombies.
Next up is Zombies Hate Stuff by Greg Stone. Readers of this blog might recall that Caramel has already reviewed a book by Greg Stone: Penguins Hate Stuff. Zombies Hate Stuff is a book in exactly the same spirit. Each page has a detailed illustration and a simple word or phrase which describes something else that zombies hate. We learn for example that zombies hate sheep, re-gifting, cliffs, and archery, but they do not mind wigs, celery, teddy bears and Canadians. Zombies Hate Stuff is, just like the penguin book, good for quite a few chuckles. Each illustration is simple yet carefully thought out, and you might find a new page more interesting to you than the others every time you open up the book. The book is likely not directly aimed toward young readers, but seeing how Caramel enjoyed Penguins Hate Stuff, I can see how young ones who like horror stuff even in small doses might also enjoy this one, which adds a good deal of humor into the mix.
Finally let me say a few words about Ten Little Zombies: A Love Story, by Andy Rash, and Pat the Zombie: A Cruel Spoof, by Aaron Ximm and Kaveh Soofi. These two are modeled after a well-known children’s rhyme in the case of Ten Little Zombies (I first heard about it while reading a novel by Agatha Christie; readers might want to follow the evolution of this rhyme in the relevant Wikipedia article) and a well-known children’s book in the case of Pat the Zombie.
The Ten Little Zombies follows the steps of the Ten Little Soldier Boys. Just as that poem is itself quite gory, the book is quite bloody and would likely not be great for really young bunnies. As you read further, the story gets more and more violent, but the end surprises the reader with a sweet twist. So even though zombies and blood and gore are all over this little book, I still smile when I think about it. Among the five books I’m reviewing here, this book is my favorite. I can see The Ten Little Zombies be appreciated by middle grade readers and older bunnies who are not terribly offended by gore and blood but also find love in the midst of gore at least somewhat endearing.
Now Pat the Zombie is another story. My best guess is that readers who grew up with Pat the Bunny, the 1940 touch-and-feel classic, are the main target audience of this book. Apparently there have been other parodies of the book: Wikipedia mentions “Pat the Politician, mocking contemporary political figures, and Pat the Yuppie, which includes activities like touching the sheepskin seatcovers of their new BMW and rubbing the exposed brick of their new condominium’s wall.” This is a good parody, and a cruel one, as the subtitle “A Cruel Spoof” implies. All standard parts of the original Pat the Bunny are here, there is a zombie bunny, Pat, and the two children start by touching it (or rather “gutting” it, as the book suggests). And step by step, we learn that the parents are also zombies, and things get closer and closer to the reader, as the reader eventually needs to read a survival manual and scream. So yes, this is definitely not for little ones, unless the little ones involved have a morbid sense of humor. But horror fans who can appreciate some cheekiness and who are open to messing around with their own pleasant childhood memories of reading the original Pat the Bunny with a loved adult might find this book amusing. It is really well done, but definitely only for its own audience.
Alright, now here we are, having talked about five zombie books published for children or at least published in the format of standard children’s books. Some of you may wonder about just who writes or publishes these kinds of books. And others might wonder why people even read them. But I will end this review with a full endorsement of cheeky adult humor messing with children’s books. As long as we always know our own children’s boundaries and resist the temptation to share some of these books with them unless we are sure they can handle them, these types of books can offer us a fresh memory of our own childhood mixed with some good load of laughter. (I even pushed away some happy tears with The Ten Little Zombies, I must admit. But then again I am a softie.) Some little bunnies will find some of these books really entertaining, and The Girl’s Guide to Zombies: Everything Vital about These Undead Monsters by Jen Jones is indeed perfectly suitable for the 8-12 year old crowd, so there is that, too.
Oh, and yes, Happy Halloween everyone! May you only be spooked by made-up monsters!