This zombie may not be able to keep her body together, but she can sure keep her head in delicate situations and be a good...

ZOMBELINA SCHOOL DAYS

From the Zombelina series

A student who is a zombie has more difficulty than most keeping it together at school, but her relationship skills are never in any doubt.

Math, grammar, spelling, and reading precede the much-anticipated show-and-tell (Zombelina’s “hip-hop’s to DIE for!”), and by then, readers will see where the tale might be going, as Zombelina loses the hand she raises to answer a question, and she puts her nose in her book. Literally. Sure enough, Zombelina and her dance both fall apart. But though the green-skinned girl is upset, it doesn’t keep her from building the nervous ghost Morty up for his turn on his first day in a new school. After all, what could be worse than Zombelina’s performance? After that, she, Morty, and her friend Lizzie (a living white girl) are fast friends. The tale ends with a dance party at Zombelina’s house after her classmates request dance lessons. Crow’s verses have the hip-hop rhythm of rap, though some will take some practice to read aloud smoothly. Idle’s Prismacolor-pencil illustrations portray Zombelina as a blonde with a style all her own. Zigzags and hash marks make it look as though her body parts are stitched together. Aside from the phantasmagoric, blue Morty, the rest of the class has a normal range of diverse skin tones.

This zombie may not be able to keep her body together, but she can sure keep her head in delicate situations and be a good friend. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61963-641-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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