Reviews for Brains for Lunch : A Zombie Novel in Haiku?!


Booklist Reviews 2010 June #1
How many stories feature a middle school with a student body composed of zombies, monsters, and regular kids, and how often are such stories told through a series of nearly 100 haiku poems? Loeb, a zombie, is the main character, and he manages to win a poetry competition, develop a crush on the school librarian, and wind up with a regular-kid girlfriend, all despite his taste for human brains. Teachers preparing to introduce their classes to haiku are bound to welcome this outrageous effort. Let's face it: many kids encountering haiku for the first time aren't enthralled by descriptions of water droplets on lotus flowers, but lines such as "Ivy tendrils fall / Dark loops splayed across my arm / Hair, not intestines" may pique their interest. Adding loads of zing are the drawings by cartoonist Wilson, the perfect illustrator for a story featuring zombies. A funny, irreverent, and unconventional verse offering that's sure to find wide curricular appeal. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
A middle-school zombie boy learns to love both a "Lifer" girl and a poetic form. He narrates his tale of star-crossed affection and detached body parts in funny, usually smooth seventeen-syllable bursts: "Geek table awaits / Larry brags about fresh flesh / He is full of lies." Illustrations have the just-right look of classroom doodles. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2010 July #1

"Brains for lunch again / 'Stop moaning and just eat it.' / Lunch lady humor." Middle schooler Loeb (pun intended) is a Zombie. The "Zs" reluctantly share a school with "Lifers" and a few "Chupos" (Chupacabras). Tensions run so high that few cross the line. Then Lifer girl Siobhan seems to be everywhere. Is she just selling her potions or does she have another motive for consorting with Zs? Loeb decides to prove all Zombies aren't idiots by entering the school poetry contest, to great effect: The Zombie gets the girl. Holt's "zombie novel in haiku" is haiku in shape only; the nature focus and revelatory final line are missing from these triplets. The arc of Loeb's story is often hard to follow due to the constraints of the verse, and his triumph at the poetry slam and getting the girl just aren't believable. Wilson's line drawings are good, gross-out fun, but they can't carry the flimsy plot. An interesting notion squeezed into what feels like a school poetry assignment gone overlong. Final art not seen. (Novel in verse. 9-12)

Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 August #2

Gross-out humor and romantic tension enmesh in this clever novel told in haiku about a zombie (aka Z) named Loeb who falls for a "Lifer," Siobhan. Raising the stakes on the usual social jockeying of middle school, the Zs eat brains for lunch, which makes Lifers not only attractive but appetizing. "Try to play it cool/ She's a Lifer after all/ I could chomp her brain." Holt (Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel) excels at wordplay and a surprisingly sophisticated brand of slapstick ("She makes my face flush/ Or, I'm just putrefying/ Either way, I'm red"). This, mixed with the astutely observed social dynamics (zombies versus humans, with chupacabras thrown in for good measure) and the haiku form, which is an ideal vehicle for the kind of halted observations one expects from the undead, makes this a standout choice for reluctant readers. New Yorker artist Wilson's gruesome pen and ink cartoons of the deformed, bug-eyed students, not all of which were seen by PW, are also an inspired match, highlighting the self-doubt and angst of the preteen years, heartbeat or not. Ages 9-14. (Aug.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 October

Gr 4-8--Middle school is hard enough for the living, but for Loeb it's especially dreadful. He is a thoughtful zombie whose classmates are fellow zombies, Lifers (regular humans), and blood-sucking creatures known as Chupos. His school is a boiling pot of rivalries and segregations. Things get interesting for Loeb when the librarian (a Lifer) encourages him to read some of his haiku at open-poetry night. Subplots include a Lifer who is romantically interested in Loeb and tensions within the different groups that mount when one being mingles with another. The novel is told through a series of haiku, a form that is comically ideal for zombie dialogue. While the book appears to be an easy read, this poetic form will appeal to skilled readers who are comfortable navigating this narrative technique. The novel jumps right into the story, and readers are required to interpret the characters, setting, and situations quickly; the poetic form does not allow for detailed character and plot development and it is sometimes difficult to discern which character is speaking. Holt employs gross-out humor that will appeal to her audience: the zombies' bodies are constantly falling apart and the novel begins, appropriately, with a haiku about eating brains, "Brains for lunch again/'Stop moaning and just eat it.'/Lunch lady humor." Wilson's pen-and-ink illustrations complement the text and zombies are shown as creatures surrounded by flies, swarming with worms, and constantly struggling to keep their bodies intact. This intriguing book definitely has an audience--one that appreciates, quite literally, tongue-in-cheek humor.--Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI

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VOYA Reviews 2010 October
Loeb is challenged by life as a brain-eating zombie teenager. He would love to be normal, but he can't. He is a brainless zombie, or at least that is what he constantly hears from the world around him. He is tempted by a friend and a beautiful Lifer girl, Siobhan, to try a potion that will make him smarter. He doesn't think it works, so he doesn't try it. His librarian then motivates him to enter the schoolwide poetry contest that, normally, only Lifers enter to prove that anyone can be smart. She gives him a book of haiku to inspire him. Throughout his day, Loeb is faced with trouble and ends up in detention. He tries to focus on his poetry for the contest but keeps getting distracted by Lifers, zombies, and an occasional chupocabra. He finally gets his moment on stage at the contest and steals the show. He also finds the love of a girl, Siobhan The central theme of this tale is that anyone can succeed as long as he or she tries and works hard to achieve a goal. Just because people say you are dumb doesn't mean you should believe them. Holt uses the creative method of haiku to support her theme, making the story short and easy for young students to grasp. The novel includes great illustrations from Gahan Wilson which add a depth of understanding to the limited words of Holt's haikus.--Barbara Allen 4Q 4P M J S Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.

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