From School Library Journal
Gr 4-8–Middle school is hard enough for the living, but for Loeb it's especially dreadful. He is a thoughtful zombie whose classmates are fellow zombies, Lifers (regular humans), and blood-sucking creatures known as Chupos. His school is a boiling pot of rivalries and segregations. Things get interesting for Loeb when the librarian (a Lifer) encourages him to read some of his haiku at open-poetry night. Subplots include a Lifer who is romantically interested in Loeb and tensions within the different groups that mount when one being mingles with another. The novel is told through a series of haiku, a form that is comically ideal for zombie dialogue. While the book appears to be an easy read, this poetic form will appeal to skilled readers who are comfortable navigating this narrative technique. The novel jumps right into the story, and readers are required to interpret the characters, setting, and situations quickly; the poetic form does not allow for detailed character and plot development and it is sometimes difficult to discern which character is speaking. Holt employs gross-out humor that will appeal to her audience: the zombies' bodies are constantly falling apart and the novel begins, appropriately, with a haiku about eating brains, “Brains for lunch again/‘Stop moaning and just eat it.'/Lunch lady humor.” Wilson's pen-and-ink illustrations complement the text and zombies are shown as creatures surrounded by flies, swarming with worms, and constantly struggling to keep their bodies intact. This intriguing book definitely has an audience–one that appreciates, quite literally, tongue-in-cheek humor.Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI
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How many stories feature a middle school with a student body composed of zombies, monsters, and regular kids, and how often are such stories told through a series of nearly 100 haiku poems? Loeb, a zombie, is the main character, and he manages to win a poetry competition, develop a crush on the school librarian, and wind up with a regular-kid girlfriend, all despite his taste for human brains. Teachers preparing to introduce their classes to haiku are bound to welcome this outrageous effort. Let's face it: many kids encountering haiku for the first time aren't enthralled by descriptions of water droplets on lotus flowers, but lines such as “Ivy tendrils fall / Dark loops splayed across my arm / Hair, not intestines” may pique their interest. Adding loads of zing are the drawings by cartoonist Wilson, the perfect illustrator for a story featuring zombies. A funny, irreverent, and unconventional verse offering that's sure to find wide curricular appeal. Grades 5-8. --Todd Morning