There’s a Zombie in My Bathtub: Here's Hank, Book 5

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
There’s a Zombie in My Bathtub: Here's Hank, Book 5 Book Poster Image
Resourceful Hank faces fears in fun Halloween story.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Shows that knowing the facts can help you overcome fear and that the library is a great place to learn facts.

Positive Messages

Facts are an effective way to confront fear, which is often rooted in misunderstandings and things unknown. Our love for friends and family can inspire great courage in the face of fear.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hank reluctantly tries to watch the movie his friend wants to share with him. He bravely tries to protect his loved ones from perceived danger. Papa Pete is patient, supportive, and understanding. Hank’s dad patiently helps his frustrated daughter repair her Halloween costume. His mother is compassionate and kind concerning her son's difficulty with reading, and his friends are reassuring and supportive.

Violence & Scariness

Cartoony images of scenes that frighten Hank, including a boy in a zombie costume, a dream with tentacle zombies, an elderly man with a large bandage on his face, and a toothless woman wearing face cream. Brief descriptions of frightening movie scenes and zombies with parts of their bodies falling off.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that There's a Zombie in My Bathtub is the fifth book in the Here's Hank series by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, coauthors of the Hank Zipzer series for older readers. Hank doesn't realize he's dyslexic and is self-conscious about his difficulty reading. Though he unhappily feels different from everyone else, his friends and family are largely empathetic and supportive. He's smart, funny, and courageous in unconventional ways. In this installment, Hank's frightened by a movie that his friends enjoy and encounters several people -- both in costume and not -- whose appearance he finds frightening. The Here's Hank books use an easy-to-read font to help beginning readers and kids with dyslexia, and the story lines are informed by Winkler's experience growing up with undiagnosed dyslexia.

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What's the story?

Hank sometimes enjoys scary movies, but zombies are too much for him. In THERE'S A ZOMBIE IN MY BATHTUB, after Hank's friends encourage him to watch a zombie movie the night before Halloween, terrified Hank is unable to sort reality from fantasy. Bully Nick McKelty feeds his fear by telling him he's surrounded by zombies preparing to invade on Halloween night. Hank does his best to prepare for fighting zombies and protecting his vulnerable Papa Pete and family.

Is it any good?

Any child can readily relate to likable hero Hank, and Scott Garrett's appealing illustrations -- including several of Hank's hand-drawn lists -- bring this story to life. Hank's dad, who's often impatient with his son, gets a softer treatment here and helps his frustrated daughter with Halloween prime-time costume problems. Like Hank, author Henry Winkler struggled through school without realizing he had dyslexia, and his experience helps make Hank's predicaments -- and his family's response -- so believable.

Nick "the Tick" consistently remains a stock bully character, depicted as a gross overeater whose fright is played up for laughs that seem unfair after the empathetic treatment of Hank's similar fears.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about scary movies and stories. What frightens you? Do you worry about your friends teasing you for being scared? How much scary stuff can your child handle?

  • What other stories have you read about kids struggling with school? How does this one compare?

  • The tables are turned when Nick is terrified by something Hank no longer fears. Do you think this is justice served?

Book details

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