Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Annie Graves
Illustrator: Glenn McElhinney
Publisher: Darby Creek, a division of Lerner Publishing Group
It’s the annual Halloween sleepover, which means it’s time to share the scariest story ever. Annie Graves hosts a yearly sleepover where her friends get together and try to scare each other. "Help! My Brother’s a Zombie" is the second story of the night, told by Jack. Jack’s brother Stephen was a great older brother, teaching him fun things like making slingshots and giving Indian burns. Then, as Stephen becomes a teenager, he begins to change, no longer the fun easy going older brother. He's mean, stays up late, and smells funny. Eventually he is shipped off to a boarding school for his bad behavior—or so Jack is told. Jack notices that his parents have been staying up late, animals are missing, and there is a locked door in the attic. Eventually Jack discovers what is behind the locked door and helps his parents take care of the situation.
Annie Graves has created an easy to read short chapter book, but it is not appropriate for young readers, unlike the first in the series. It has a large font, plenty of white space, and a lot of interesting illustrations. The book teaches about prediction, as the title and text include foreshadowing that can assist children in making accurate guesses. While the format is neat, the content is mature, dark, and explicit. A graphic description of a fingernail being ripped out, with blood and skin still attached, is a gruesome thing to read in a children's book. It also talks frequently about the disappearance of neighborhood pets and ends with Jack searching for live animals to feed to his brother, the zombie. While it's a short chapter book, it is not appropriate for young children and is not recommended to anyone under the age of eleven or twelve.
*Contains mild violence.