October 17, 2016

If I Were a Zombie

by Kate Inglis
Illustrated by Eric Orchard
Nimbus Publishing
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
April 2016

With Halloween almost upon us and young children (OK, adults too) thinking about costumes, consider reading If I Were a Zombie to jump start those creative juices and delight young readers with the back-and-forth poems of two friends, Evan and Poppy,  imagining life as monsters and other-worldly creatures.

The list of creatures that Kate Inglis includes is extensive: zombie, fairy, robot, giant, vampire, witch, ninja, ghost, alien, superhero, sea monster, goblin, skeleton, mermaid, and even adult. There’s something a little scary and a lot funny about all of them. Each double-spread has a full-page illustration and a multi-stanza rhyming poem about the entity each child envisions for themselves.

If I were a zombie
I’d package my drool
Put it in Mason jars
Sell it at school. 

I’d mumble and stumble to sniff out some lunch
Chase Ben and Lucy…
(Think they’d be juicy?)
And sweet little Tilly?
“Quit runnin’, silly!
All I want’s a good nibble and munch.
(pg. 3)

So begins Evan’s speculative verse about being a zombie, and the two children’s remaining proposals are just as evocative.  There are discussions of the robot’s price tag and robospeak (AFFIRMATIVE for yes, NEGATIVE for no, And DOES-NOT-COMPUTE for “I ain’t gonna go.”; pg. 7); the ninja’s "collection of secrets and dark-of-night prizes" (pp. 15); a pirate ghost who knows of Oak Island and eluding the Mounties; an alien called Zeekoid the Freakoid ready to take over New Brunswick; and a photo-bombing sea monster that has ...

...stingers for fingers
Seaweed for hair
Flip-floppy gills
And a bum that’s bare.” (pg. 23)

From If I Were a Zombie 
by Kate Inglis, illus. by Eric Orchard
But most wonderful of all is the cool dad who declares that,

I’d stay up past midnight
And my kids would too
We’d eat pretzels with pop
That turned our tongues blue.
(pg. 31)

Eric Orchard, who illustrated The Terrible, Horrible, Smelly Pirate (Nimbus, 2008), easily gets down and dirty in his imaginings of these weird and wacky characters.  The illustrations are as bold as their colours and more fun than scary, sure to entertain young readers with their quirky whimsy.

From If I Were a Zombie
by Kate Inglis, illus. by Eric Orchard
If I Were a Zombie pairs Kate Inglis’s imaginative rhymes with Eric Orchard’s fanciful but goofy creatures in such a way that life as an other-worldly creature seems almost cool, even if it requires eating nachos with brain dip.

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