Last weekend I had the amazing opportunity to go to the 2012 ComicCon in San Diego. If you don’t know what that is, ComicCon is this HUGE convention that takes over downtown San Diego for five days. It is a giant gathering of movie studios, television channels, game companies, comic book artists, authors, and publishers. Imagine everything you ever thought was cool, all in the same place at the same time! You can walk around and get sneak peeks at upcoming games and movies, meet favorite actors/authors/artists, spend tons of money on collectible items, get autographs from your favorite celebrities, and of course buy comic books. I was down there for two days, spending one day walking around the outside of the convention and one day on the inside. There are about a hundred million things to see and do, and the whole thing is slightly overwhelming. Overwhelming with awesomeness! I forgot to even mention the fact that all kinds of fans show up to this event, and lots of them wear amazing costumes that they have created themselves. I didn’t wear a costume myself this time (maybe next year if I’m lucky enough to go again), so I put on my favorite Harry Potter shirt, and set out to see what I could find…
Of all the hundreds of booths in the convention hall, and of all the books that were on display and for sale, one caught my eye. One caught my eye and made me stop walking, dead in my tracks. I knew on first glance that this was a book I would have to check out immediately. Zombie Kid Diaries has a cover that looks sort of like another book you may have read, or even seen as a movie. Hmm. Well, I love the Wimpy Kid books, too, so I got my hands on a copy and started reading!
Bill Stokes is your typical middle school student. He just wants to fit in, do well enough to stay out of trouble but not so well that he stands out, and he has plans to be a professional video game player. His father was a bit of a jerk and ended up in jail, so now Bill is also adjusting to his mom going back to work. Only it turns out that the job his mom was able to get is a position as a tester for new medications. Working all the time makes her tired, but they are doing okay on their own. Bill takes notes in his journal, so he can keep track of his gaming scores and the day-to-day things that might have influenced his game play, such as his breakfast or the weather. These notes are what you read, and the journal is fully illustrated in that familiar cartoon style.
At school, Bill meets a weird girl who seems determined to be his friend, and he also unfortunately finds a bully. Luckily, he still has his best buddy, Larry, on his side. Things are going okay, except for his mother, who is stumbling around the apartment and falling down randomly. Side effects from all those medications she has been taking at work maybe? Then Bill starts noticing that HE feels different, too, and that everyone around him suddenly smells delicious… What do zombie kids eat for breakfast? How do they deal with pimples and showering in PE? And speaking of PE, how do zombies run the track and play basketball anyway???
A couple twists and turns made this a very funny (and quick) book for a summer vacation read. This book is illustration-heavy and has all of the middle school requirements like fart jokes and super-stinky BO. The first book is called Zombie Kid Diaries: Playing Dead, and the second one is ZKD: Grossery Games. The second book has a different illustrator and looks a little bit different in its style. In this one, Bill has his sights on competing against a video game champ from Japan, only to discover that he has to go on a class field trip instead. Maybe that’s okay because his newly developed zombie claws will just slow him down at the tournament anyhow. Like the title explains, it’s all pretty gross, especially when Bill makes a gruesome discovery in the woods.
These books are not AR books yet, but they were pretty simple with no challenging vocabulary. Read the Zombie Kid Diaries if you can imagine a combination of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books added to the Goosebumps series. Funny and icky at the same time, but not especially scary. Go find out what a “road pizza” is and decide if you would ever eat one!