Friday, October 16, 2020

And now for a scary story...

Rise of ZomBert
by Kara LaReau; illus. by Ryan Andrews
144 pages; ages 8-12
Candlewick, 2020

It was a cold fall night in the town of Lambert, and the moon was full.

Oops. We need a sound track to set the mood for the rest of this review. (less scary; more scary)  

The only sounds were the buzzing of the streetlamps and the scattering of dead leaves across the windy, empty streets … and, in a lab on the outskirts of town, the creak of a cage door.

When nine-year-old Mellie and her best friend, Danny, are out shooting a scene for Danny’s newest zombie movie, they discover a scraggly, smelly cat behind a dumpster outside the YummCo Foods factory. This cat is the ugliest cat they’ve ever seen, but Mellie feels that there’s just ... something about him. She names him Bert and hides him in her room because she knows her parents won’t let her keep him. And she checks out books from the library so she can learn everything she needs to know about having a cat.

But soon it’s clear that Bert is not like any other cat. For one thing, he decapitates all her stuffed animals, leaving a mess of stuffing and headless toys. Before long he is leaving the headless corpses of birds and mice for her. The book says these are gifts, but Danny is convinced the cat is a zombie.

What I like about this book: It’s just plain fun to read! There are plenty of true cat facts, and the occasional chapter from Zombert’s point of view. We learn that he’s never been given a name, and that’s a point for Mellie. On the other hand, he can’t figure out why she buries the gifts he leaves without even tasting them. What a waste! There’s also a bully, and a chase scene featuring bicycles and people in haz-mat suits. And, of course, the underlying question: What is really going on? And what does YummCo Foods have to do with it?

My assessment: Rise of ZomBert + a candy bar = the perfect Halloween treat.

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.


  1. ooooh, your teaser and the cover make me really want to read this one now! Thanks for the rec!

  2. What a fun and scary read for the Halloween season. There is enough creepiness in this story that I think readers will love.

  3. This sounds like a great Halloween story and it's not too long, which will appeal to kids.

  4. A perfect read for this spooky time of the year. Sounds like a good read aloud, too. Thanks for featuring this scary story on MMGM today.

  5. I had seen this book before, but I had no idea how fun it sounded until I read your review! I'm already intrigued about what exactly is going on, especially with a suspicious corporation involved. Thanks for a great Halloween story!

  6. I love the cover, and this book sounds like it has just the right amount of scary in it for me. Thanks for telling me about it. I will try to check it out.

  7. I love the cover too! This sounds like a great story, just in time for Halloween. I will look for it!