Peanut Butter & Brains: Joe McGee and Charles Santoso
August 20, 2015
Book: Peanut Butter & Brains: A Zombie Culinary Tale
Author: Joe McGee
Illustrator: Charles Santoso
Age Range: 4-8
Zombies are everywhere these days - television, movies, books, etc. But I do believe that this is the first time I've run across a picture book about zombies. Peanut Butter & Brains, written by Joe McGee and illustrated by Charles Santoso, is about a little zombie boy named Reginald who lives in the zombie-infested small town of Quirkville. Rather than wanting to eat brains, as all of his fellow zombies do, Reginald craves a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But sandwiches are surprisingly hard to come by when you don't have a home or money to buy food. In the end, however, Reginald's devotion to peanut butter and jelly ends up saving the day uniting the town
As one would rather hope in a picture books, this is a very g-rated portrayal of zombies. The zombies shamble about in a hapless manner, muttering "Brains". People are easily able to avoid them. No brains are actually consumed (though the meatloaf at school does look suspiciously like brains).
McGee uses the zombie lingo to admirable read-aloud effect. Like this:
"The zombie horde shuffled and shambled around the corner.
they moaned, licking their lips at
the sight of little Abigail Zink.
The townspeople froze in their
tracks, including the mayor and
his prancing poodle."
Lots of fun vocabulary words in this small passage alone. Peanut Butter & Brains is an enjoyable read-aloud.
Santoso's illustrations show the zombies as blue or gray-faced, with ragged clothes and crudely stitched scars. They walk around with arms outstretched, and instead of the word "brains" we often see them with a dialog bubble containing a picture of a brain. Reginald, with spiky brown hair and a big smile, is almost cute. Santoso does include small humorous details, as when Reginald turns out his pockets looking for money and insects and worms come out.
I never would have thought that a non-violent picture book introduction to zombies would be necessary. But here's the thing. My five year has been listening to Plants vs. Zombies books for about a year now. And those zombies do kill people. Kids know of zombies, and find the idea interesting, just like adults do. So the idea of a kid-friendly introduction, in which nobody dies, and in which peanut butter and jelly are essential to town peace, well, it kind of works. I think that certain kids, pardon the pun, will eat this one up. Peanut Butter & Brains is definitely recommended for library purchase.
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers (@AbramsKids)
Publication Date: August 11, 2015
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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