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Zombie Mommy: A Pals in Peril Tale

Review

Zombie Mommy: A Pals in Peril Tale

written by M. T. Anderson, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus

In the past two Pals in Peril series installments, Lily, Jasper and Katie have been on the road, finding adventure (and more than a little danger) amid the harrowing wilds of Delaware. Now our intrepid trio (plus the dreamy Delawarean monk Drgnan Pghlik) are back home safe and sound in Pelt, New Jersey.

But, as it turns out, danger can find these kids anywhere. And no one knows that better than Lily Gefelty's mom. Now that otherwise ordinary Lily has turned up as a character in several books, her mom is worried about what this might mean for her. "Have you noticed anything about books written for people your age?" Mrs. Gefelty asks her daughter. "In every single book your English teacher assigns you, the mother dies or disappears…. In this one, the mother contracts cholera in India. In this one, she dies of cancer. In this one, she's killed in a rogue trolley accident. In this one, she's eaten by a rhinoceros…."

You get the picture. Convinced that her days are numbered, Mrs. Gefelty decides that the safest place for her is in Todburg, New York. After all, she figures, the most likely place to stay alive has got to be the place known as the undead capital of the U.S. (Obviously Mrs. Gefelty knows Lily's English curriculum but isn't up on her zombie literature.)

Before long, Mrs. Gefelty comes home…changed, sending Lily and her friends --- not to mention Katie's obnoxious cousin Madigan --- on a new adventure involving killer tarantulas, musical theater-loving ghosts, and a brave plan involving a hot tub. To top it all off, Drgnan finds himself in the middle of a love triangle he didn't even know existed, just before he is supposed to return home to Delaware, leaving both Katie and Lily bereft.

ZOMBIE MOMMY is the fifth book in M. T. Anderson's Pals in Perilseries, and probably one of the best. The focused plot helps keep the absurdity under control, resulting in just the right level of zaniness, and the introduction of the new character Madigan is an inspired one and leads to much of the volume's humor. Madigan is the star of her own book series --- Snott Academy --- and Anderson clearly has a lot of fun playing with the conventions of Gossip Girl-type novels when he writes about her, as in this footnote: "I have been told by the editors of the Snott Academy series to make sure I describe Madigan's outfits accurately in each scene. I don't know how I'm going to do that. I know nothing about fashion. I am wearing old, brown corduroys right now, and I think my shirt might be on backwards."

This kind of fresh new addition to the series --- not to mention its many laugh-out-loud moments throughout --- is the reason kids will want to keep checking in with Lily, Jasper and Katie to see what fresh brand of horror and hilarity they'll stumble upon next.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on October 25, 2011

Zombie Mommy: A Pals in Peril Tale
written by M. T. Anderson, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus

  • Publication Date: October 25, 2011
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Beach Lane Books
  • ISBN-10: 1416986413
  • ISBN-13: 9781416986416