The Zero Degree Zombie Zone

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
The Zero Degree Zombie Zone Book Poster Image
Fast-paced adventure with friends, zombies, and magic.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

This is a fantasy, meant to entertain. 

Positive Messages

Believe in yourself, stand up for yourself, learn from your mistakes, and trust others. There's great value in teamwork, and doing what's right saves the day,   

Positive Role Models & Representations

Zero Degree Zombie Zone has nuanced positive role models. No one is all good or all bad. Instead, the characters grow and evolve, and that ability to evolve is a positive model.

Violence & Scariness

The fighting action in the book is cartoon-like violence that includes things such as kicking zombies and lots of zombies grabbing and pulling kids and growling, but nothing really comes of their attacks. There are threats of fights between kids, but nothing happens except accidental falls and pushes. A king zombie threatens to take over the entire world, so there's a fear of being eaten.

Language

Mild name-calling including "loser" and "stupid."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Zero Degree Zombie Zone is the story of shy fourth-grader (and narrator) Bakari Katari Johnson, who's thrust into the role of hero as he tries to prevent a zombie invasion from an icy planet. There are some instances of bullying and name-calling; however, those situations are resolved. There also are mild fights involving zombies and kids in school. Parents looking for diversity in middle-grade fiction will appreciate this book's cast and African-American main characters. 

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What's the story?

Bakari Katari Johnson is in big trouble. Zombies are going to invade Earth unless he can find a missing magical ring, and his best bud tricked him into running for hall monitor against the most popular kid in school. He's not sure what's worse, getting beat to a pulp by his opponent's biggest fan or being eaten by zombies (and is there a difference?).

Is it any good?

THE ZERO DEGREE ZOMBIE ZONE is a fun, quick-paced read that keeps readers engaged and laughing. The story is both strange and familiar, with characters navigating the social minefields of school and then suddenly falling into a world where a horrific ice monster is threatening them and Earth with a frozen zombie invasion. Readers want to root for Bakari, and author Patrik Henry Bass does an excellent job of creating an entertaining story featuring believable characters with nuanced personalities.

Bass mostly breaks out of the stereotypical and popular kid-versus-morally-superior-misfits scenario that's common in kids' literature, though the overweight, bumbling, sidekick/best friend trope does make an unwelcome appearance. Overall, kids and parents will enjoy the action, message, and story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the zombie trend in books, movies, TV shows, apps, and video games. Why are zombies so popular? 

  • Why do you think some kids bully others? Do you know what to do if you or someone you know is being bullied?

  • If Bakari hadn't listened to his grandfather's comforting words and believed in himself, he couldn't have fought the zombies. What things can you do to remind yourself to believe in yourself?

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Themes & Topics

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For kids who love magic and fantasy

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