Valentine's Day is right around the corner. (In my neighborhood, the stores started putting out red heart-shaped boxes of candy the day after Christmas.) Boys in the primary grades are usually not gung-ho about this kissy-poo holiday, but most will make an exception for a book about romance that features a love-starved zombie. Mortimer is the undead in question. He's searched everywhere for the ghoul of his dreams--with no success. Cupid's Ball is just weeks away and he still doesn't have a date. In desperation, he places a personal ad in the newspaper, under the moniker "Tall, Dead, & Handsome". On the day of the ball Mortimer waits and waits for his true love. Will Mortimer find someone to literally give his heart to? For that, dear reader, you must read the book for yourself. Kelly DiPucchio
stuffs this comic tale with deadpan humor. And as amusing as the text is, it goes hand in hand with Scott Campbell's
illustrations. For instance, Mortimer gives a waitress a "stunning diamond ring". The illustration shows that the ring is still attached to a severed finger. Young readers will also enjoy looking for a group of pet worms that trail Mortimer. (At the ball they're there dressed in bow ties.)
Although classified as a picture book, Zombie in Love
's straightforward text shouldn't deter beginning readers from trying it on their own, especially when they have such specific illustrations to help them decode. All in all, a perfect book for young zombie fans who like their horror served with a huge helping of humor.
Zombie in Love
by Kelly DiPucchio
illustrations by Scott Campbell
Atheneum, 32 pages
Written by Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrated by Scott Campbell
$12.99, ages 4-8, 32 pages
A zombie goes online to find the girl of his dreams, an undead gal with chipped up teeth, in this hilarious love story that's as cute for Halloween as it was for Valentine's Day.
Mortimer, a bulgy-eyed fellow with sallow skin and shredded clothes, longs for love but as Valentine's day approaches, he seems to be looking for love in all the wrong places.
At the bus stop, he offers a box of chocolate-covered worms to a girl on a bench but she scooches away. And when the mail carrier rings his door bell, he thrusts a beating heart in her face, but she cringes.
Even the waitress at the dinner gives him the cold shoulder. "But why?" he wonders to himself. After all he did offer her a diamond ring -- all nicely presented in a hinged box, on a severed ring finger.
Poor Mortimer, he just doesn't have the touch. Perhaps what he needs are a few primers on dating. So, he buries himself in a pile of books about dead dates and graveyard love, then takes their advice and tries to look available.
He walks his dog, an interesting fellow with a dangling eye and a skeletal maw; he goes to lift weights, though he has to reattach his severed arm. He even takes ballroom classes with a skeleton. But none of it makes any difference.
Then Mortimer is struck with genius. He'll take out a personal ad for a date to Cupid's Ball! It's perfect: he'll list all his great qualities, like the fact he's "tall, dead and handsome." And he'll suggest some romantic things they could do.
Like walking in graveyards and falling down in the rain. "If you're not into cooking," he writes in his ad. "if you have half a brain. / If you like waking up a midnight, / horror films, and voodoo, / then I'm the guy who you've looked for / and I'm dying to meet you!"