Book Review: The Zero Degree Zombie Zone by Patrik Henry Bass, Illustrations by Jerry Craft

The Zero Degree Zombie Zone
By Patrik Henry Bass, Illustrations by Jerry Craft
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Middle Grade Horror
ISBN: 978-0545132107
Source: ARC from BEA 2014
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In the spirit if Tony Abbott’s UNDERWORLD books, comes the new kid on the block – Barkari Katari Johnson!

Shy fourth-grader Bakari Katari Johnson is having a bad day. He’s always coming up against Tariq Thomas, the most popular kid in their class, and today is no different. On top of that, Bakari has found a strange ring that appears to have magical powers–and the people from the ring’s fantastical other world want it back! Can Bakari and his best friend Wardell stave off the intruders’ attempts, keep the ring safe, and stand up to Tariq and his pal Keisha, all before the school bell rings? Media celebrity and Essence Magazine entertainment producer, Patrik Henry Bass delivers adventure, fun, fantasy and friendship in this illustrated action-packed adventure starring an African American boy hero and his classmates.

I don’t read many middle grade books but The Zero Degree Zombie Zone intrigued me. One. Zombies. Two. There are not one, not two, not even three, but four black people on the cover which is very refreshing to see. Three. I’m familiar with illustrator, Jerry Craft’s work and wanted to see what he was working on next. Plainly put, this book rocks. The story, the characters, the illustrations. It’s all great! If I were in middle or elementary school and saw this at the Scholastic book fair, I know for sure that I’d pick it up, start reading, and add it to my list of books to buy.

These characters were very well rounded and relatable. So much so that the things that they said really brought me back to the things that I said and thought at their age. I loved following Bakari on his journey to save the world from being overrun by zero-degree zombies. Bakari had the help of his best friend, Wardell who always looks on the positive side, is very hopeful, selfless, and a kid who takes chances. Together, Bakari and Wardell discover what it means to have each other’s backs when competition gets in the way. The competition being their classmates, Tariq and Tariq’s cousin, Keisha. As Bakari is not only put in the position to fight zombies, the greedy zombie, Zenon in particular, but he’s also put in the position running against Tariq as hall monitor. Ah. Kid drama. Those were the days.

Anyway, it was exciting watching Bakari and co. in action at school and in the zero-degree zombie zone as they discovered the importance of courage, faith, forgiveness, and team work. This is a quick and fun read, one book you won’t want to stop reading once you start. No, there’s no explanation for how the zombies got this way and how they are able to move so swiftly at zero degrees but if you can imagine the zero-degree zombie zone as a mysterious realm rather than a 100% plausible plane, you’ll be able to enjoy this book in its entirety. I sure did. Be a kid. Use your imagination. It’s so freeing. Great work! Great, great work. If you have a child, I’d highly recommend buying The Zero Degree Zombie Zone.

The Zero Degree Zombie Zone by Patrik Henry Bass, Illustrations by Jerry Craft releases August 26, 2014.