Tag Archives: zombies

My Dead Bunny by Sigi Cohen and James Foley

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deadbunnycoverMy Dead Bunny by Sigi Cohen and illustrated by James Foley, hardback picture book, published by Walker Books Australia Pty Ltd in 2015.

Brad the Bunny might be dead, but he doesn’t want to leave! A dark zombie picture book, what’s not to love!?

Fun rhyming text complements the wonderful illustrations in My Dead Bunny. The pictures are mostly black and white with green and pink highlights. This works perfectly for the type of story it is. The little worm that pokes out of Brad’s head is orange and so smiley! I liked this touch. In fact, I just really liked Brad. He is adorably freaky, with scary pink eyes pointing off in different directions… just, I don’t want him to wander into my bedroom at night! My favourite picture is where Brad meets his death, it’s so detailed.

The story itself made me laugh. I love the ending. It is the perfect solution! A couple of the rhymes aren’t quite rhymes, but the story still flows. The text is clear and easy to read.

I really enjoy zombie and monster stories and movies, and that has rubbed off on my kids. They have liked films like ‘Frankenweenie’, ‘Paranorman’, and ‘Hotel Transylvania’. So I went ahead and read My Dead Bunny to my preschooler and first grader. They both loved it. My first grader read it again to herself straight away.

Suitable for primary school children, just keep in mind that some kids may be frightened by the zombie bunny. My Dead Bunny is fantastic to share aloud. Try it by torchlight on a dark and stormy night!

 

* My Dead Bunny is shortlisted for the 2016 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Picture Book category.

 

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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illuminae coverIlluminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, paperback novel, 599 pages, published by Allen & Unwin in 2015.

It’s the year 2575 on an icy planet in the far reaches of the ‘verse where a large corporation has set up an illegal mining operation. Here, teenagers Kady Grant and Ezra Mason have just undergone a messy breakup. That doesn’t seem quite as important when their settlement is attacked by the mega warships of a rival corporation. A few ships manage to evacuate some of the population, Kady and Ezra among them. Unfortunately the ships are damaged in the battle, leaving them unable to leap through space, and the next way-point is six months away. The pursuing battleship may not be the worst to come though, with a serious viral outbreak, a command covering up important information and an artificial intelligence unit that may just be a little crazy.

Uniquely told through a compilation of interviews, emails, instant messaging logs, security camera transcripts, memorandums, and the artificial intelligence unit’s records, Illuminae is extremely creative. The contents are made to look as if they could be part of a file about the destruction of Kerenza and the pursuit if its three ships, the Alexander, Hypatia and Copernicus. This is supported by interesting graphics and different formats and text for different styles of documents. It is cleverly done and really suits the tone of the book.

I found the story both intriguing and compelling, reading through it in just a couple of days. There was a lot going on within the book. First, Kady and Ezra have parted on less than amicable terms, but with everything different after the attack, they may have a chance to at least be friends again. Then there are the conditions on the ships, cramped quarters, jobs to do, and the command keeping secrets from the general population. Kady becomes increasingly interested in what it really happening, and begins hacking various parts of the ships’ records and communication channels. She’s searching for the truth, but what she finds isn’t good. The effects of the viral infection is quite disturbing. Within such a confined space, it was inevitable for such an infection to spread rapidly, but the way it distorts its victims is horrifying. And the way the artificial intelligence unit, AIDAN, reacts is even more horrifying! It makes some decisions that are difficult to comprehend, all for “the good of the fleet”. AIDAN has so much control over the ship Alexander, giving it power without any of the compassion and compromise that humans use to make decisions and draw conclusions. There is a lesson in there about dependency on artificial intelligence… might it ever be able to adapt to leave the restraints of its human creators behind? And what consequences would that bring about?

There were a lot of characters too, but Kady is the lead. She is unconventional, intelligent, courageous and loyal. I felt like I was riding the roller-coaster alongside her, feeling her triumphs and her defeats. A complex and well developed character whose story I enjoyed immensely. Ezra was also well developed, though I didn’t feel like I got to know him quite as well. The other main character was really AIDAN, despite it being man-made code and programming, AIDAN was very much alive during this book. At first I disliked it very much, and wondered how humans could get to the point of putting their lives so squarely in the hands of such a program. As the story progressed and I got to know AIDAN better, it became increasingly clear that this was a human creation beginning to form something akin to humanity within its programming. It was scheming, cunning and deceitful, but the way it came to care for and protect Kady made it seem so human, I couldn’t help but feel for it.

Illuminae is suitable for upper high school students and up. There is plenty of violence, some of it rather graphic, and adult themes. Any foul language has been blacked out, but I easily filled that in as I read.  The story had an air of space zombie apocalypse, with a dose of futuristic crazy for good measure. These are some of my favourite genres, and to have them all mashed together was awesome, it just worked in a way I couldn’t have forseen. An amazing, engaging, and sometimes scary or sad book told in a unique way that will be hard to forget, Illuminae is a must read for young adults and fans of science fiction.

 

 

Freak Street: Meet the Zombiesons by Knife & Packer

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IMG_0424Freak Street: Meet the Zombiesons by Knife & Packer, paperback graphic chapter book, 93 pages, first published by Scholastic Australia in 2008, this edition published by Scholastic Australia in 2013.

The Zombiesons live on Freak Street along with some other unusual families. Within their family, there is Mr and Mrs Zombieson, their children Zigi and Zoey and the baby Zee. They also have a three headed dog called Zlobba. They are all bright green with red hair and their brains exposed, they also have an interesting house and yard, including a man-eating hedge that likes mouldy pizza. Granny Zombieson is coming to stay and celebrate her 500 year birthday with her family. She is a whiz in the kitchen at making the most delicious pizzas, such as Haunted Hawaiian, for which she guards the recipes closely.

Zigi plays soccer with the Freak Street School team, and whenever Granny Zombieson comes to watch, the team never loses, so it is important to Zigi that she attend the big final. On the morning of the final the whole family goes to the theme park Danger World for Granny’s birthday. Matters are complicated when Granny has her brain stolen, but by whom and why, and will she still make it to the game to be Zigi’s lucky charm?

This was a funny story filled with amusing colour illustrations. The faces of some of the characters captured their nature extremely well. Granny Zombieson was my favourite character, with her skateboard and attraction to terrifying rides, despite her age. Her friends from the Ridiculously Old Age Zombie Home also made me laugh, especially when Scary’s eyeball fell into the fish bowl. Even though the Zombiesons were zombies, they were mostly just like any other family, though maybe with a few more rather unusual quirks.

My second grader enjoyed Meet the Zombiesons so much that she has asked for more b0ooks from this series, and she is looking forward to meeting more of the Freak Street families. Meet the Zombiesons was a simple yet exciting adventure best for lower and middle primary school students, though I liked it well enough too. It makes zombies seem not very frightening at all, so younger readers shouldn’t be scared to give this book a go, especially with an adult.