Once Upon a Zombie: Tales for Brave Readers

Random. (Step into Reading). Jul. 2023. 48p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780593571408; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9780593571392.
Gr 1-3–This engaging early reader harkens back to old fables to entice young zombie fans. In “Little Red Zombie,” the wolf attempts to manipulate Red Zombie, but Red sets the big bad wolf up for a smart and terrifying surprise. In “Hansel and Gretel Zombie,” the witch flees when Hansel and Gretel zombies doctor her cauldron for the worst. In “3 Little Zombies,” the big bad wolf blows the houses down in a quest for little pigs, but instead finds zombies! Opening with questions about what the audience would do if a zombie visited their room at night, this book illustrates how kids can stand up to the nighttime scaries. Creating the feel of a bedtime read, likely designed to mitigate fear, Underwood balances humor and storytelling actions that allow young readers to enjoy such villains. The three tales come together at the end with a hilarious bakery meeting, where the witch and the wolf decide to flee from the world of zombie stories. With details ranging from eyeballs to brains, and artwork that employs color and expressions well to set the story’s tone, this early reader is sure to engross youngsters, lessen the fear of nighttime creatures, and garner a good laugh.
VERDICT A sure pick for good-humored zombie enthusiasts.

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