Posts Tagged ‘Penguin Group Canada’

Write a Review Wednesday: Zombiekins

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Doggy Slippers . This week we’re getting a little macarbre with Penguin Canada‘s Zombiekins (7+), written and illustrated by Kevin Bolger. I have to thank Vimala at Penguin Canada for my review copy.

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The little town of Dementedyville is the boring, uneventful place where Stanley Nudelman lives with his family. But all that changes when Stanley buys Zombiekins, a creepy yet strangely cute stuffy, from the woman who is rumored to be a witch and lives down the street. It seems when Zombiekins is exposed to the light of the moon he comes to life, and is hungry. Zombiekins slowly munches and crunches and slobbers his way through Stanley’s elementary school, turning all the kids into zombies. It’s up to Stanley and his friend Miranda to try to stop the school’s complete zombification.

My kids love stories that are a little dark. My 8-year old is fascinated by zombies and vampires and other mythical (yet scary) creatures but most of the books we’ve encountered, that she’s wanted to read, are aimed at an older young adult audience. When I heard about Zombiekins I thought it would be perfect.

My daughter whipped through the first six chapters of the book when it first arrived, saying it was completely creepy but creepy enough that she had to keep reading.

Although Zombiekins is a book about zombies, Kevin Bolger does a great job balancing the creepy with the fun. There’s no talk about blood or brains or other aspects of zombies that you would expect in a zombie book. Bolger’s zombie story leaves it to the child’s imagination what happens. Even the illustrations are fun cartoon style. But don’t get me wrong, the story is still scary and creepy; a few times my daughter had to stop reading and preferred to only read when someone else was in the room with her.

I love how the adult characters, the school teachers, seem oblivious to the zombie changes going on in the school; some teachers actual prefer the kids in their zombie state as these zombie kids listen and follow the rules, except for the ‘don’t chew on your classmates’ rule.

I would have preferred it if Stanley had actually stumbled on the solution versus his friend Miranda but I guess they were working as a team. And it is better than having the witch or some other adult figure step-in. I think young readers will be glued to the pages, I know I spent a late night reading to get to the end. My daughter is still finishing the book so I’m trying hard not to spoil the ending.

And the story of Zombiekins might not be over just yet. Zombiekins II will be crawling to your bookshelf soon…Stump! — scri-i-i-i-i-ich…


For more zombie fun visit www.zombiekins.com

To add a copy of Zombiekins to your own library visit your local bookstore or Penguin Canada. For other great reads for kids checkout earlier Write a Review Wednesday posts.

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Write a Review Wednesday: Theodore Boone Kid Lawyer

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Emily’s First Day of School published by Sterling Press. This week I had a chance to read John Grisham‘s new middle grade book Theodore Boone. Kid Lawyer (age 8-12), from Penguin Group (Canada). I have to thank Vimala at Penguin for my review copy.

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Theodore (Theo) Boone lives in the small city of Strattenburg with his two busy lawyer parents. Although Theo himself isn’t a lawyer, the bright thirteen-year old plays the part well. He knows every lawyer, police officer and clerk and a fair amount about the law and in his make-shift office located at the back of the families law offices, Theo offers up free legal advice to his friends.

One such consultation, with a scared illegal, sheds light on a murder trail happening right in the city of Strattenburg. Theo is presented with some evidence that could stop a cold-hearted killer from going free. But getting it heard before the trial ends could prove a challenge.

The idea of a court room drama for kids is intriguing but the execution I’m not too sure. I’m a big John Grisham fan so I was really excited to read his new book, to see how  he would transition over to a middle grade audience. Before reading I mistakenly had the stories like Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew hovering in the back of my mind but in hindsight those stories were more detective oriented.

I liked the idea of Theo helping his friends with legal advice and I could see how in a small city, with lawyer parents, friends would look to him for his knowledge, but the rest of Theo’s character seems to be a bit of s stretch; he was perfect. This made him flat and boring (not to mention unrealistic).

Grisham did a good job explaining legal jargon in a language kids would understand and picking up some information on how the court systems operate might be interesting to some. I did find myself sometimes struggling to keep in the middle-grade mindset though, swaying from an adult reading a Grisham book back to a pre-teen reading a mystery. I started to read the story out loud to my kids and my eight-year old was intrigued with Theo and his role in law, but as the story got bogged down in legal terms and non-action scenes, she started to lose interest.

The story did pick-up a bit at the end as you’re not sure if the criminal on trial will get away with his crime or if Theo will find away to make justice prevail.

One of my biggest problems with the book is that this smart, independent boy, who’s been working this whole case in the background on his own, has to not only go to an adult for help but ends up sitting on the sidelines while the adults try to fix everything. This was such a disappointment. Why couldn’t there have been a way for Theo to solve things on this own, like his character has up to this point?

But things aren’t all bad. One of my favourite parts of the book, a part I’m sure many won’t like, is how the book ends. Without giving too much away, the ending isn’t what you expect. Actually that’s not true. It’s something you might expect from John Grisham. Things aren’t wrapped up as neat and tidy as some might like but I prefer it that way. I think it also adds some realism in the case, showing that sometimes the good guys don’t win, completely. How kids might react to this, I don’t know.

The ending also reads as though there could be a series planned for Theodore Boone, Kid Detective. If so, I hope Theo doesn’t have to take a backseat again. A hero who isn’t much of a hero is a hard book to swallow.

You can visit the website www.theodoreboone.com for information on the book, learn a little more about the law and see a video interview with John Grisham about writing Theodore Boone, Kid Detective. My favourite part was the crazy laws that actually stand in the United States at the moment.

You can add Theodore Boone, Kid Detective to your own library by visiting you independent book seller or Penguin Group (Canada). For other book recommendations for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts. If you have a book I should consider for review, email me at cabadov(at)hotmail(dot)com.