Zombie Baseball Beatdown



Goofy horror/action comedy has serious underpinnings.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Although mostly a humorous horror fantasy, Zombie Baseball Beatdown explores some serious real-life issues such as immigration and food safety. Although the existence of zombies is unlikely, instances of food contamination and immigrant-bashing are not uncommon in certain parts of the United States.

Positive messages

Zombie Baseball Beatdown emphasizes the importance of friendship, teamwork, and loyalty. Rabi, Miguel, and Joe always stick together and look out for each other, even in the face of a zombie invasion. Their protectiveness for each other is spoiled slightly by their rather callous disregard for the zombies and their innocent victims.

Positive role models

Rabi, Miguel, and Joe share an unbreakable bond of friendship, and each is willing to put himself in danger to protect the others. They care about social justice and food safety, but they also break the law by driving without a license. They're also oddly indifferent to the fact that the zombies they dispatch with baseball bats were once innocent townspeople and their neighbors.


As the title might suggest, Zombie Baseball Beatdown is fairly violent, with hordes of zombies running amok and biting innocent victims only to be subdued by being beaten with baseball bats. But author Paolo Bacigalupi keeps a good deal of comedic distance between the mayhem and its more somber implications. In general, the zombie-bashing is described in a cartoonish fashion.


There are virtually no women in Zombie Baseball Beatdown, and all the major male characters are focused on baseball, comic books, and zombie killing.


Characters occasionally say that something "sucks."

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The cows at Milrow's packing plant are injected with hormones, antibiotics, and zombie-ism drugs.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Zombie Baseball Beatdown is a fast-paced horror comedy that also addresses serious real-life issues like immigration, bigotry, food safety, and factory farming. Set in and around a meat-processing plant, the story affords plenty of gross-out and bathroom humor. There's no sexual content or objectionable language, but there's a good deal of violence, most of it directed against zombies and depicted cartoonishly. Oddly, the main characters are never much concerned that the zombies they beat up were once their fellow townspeople.

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What's the story?

Baseball teammates Rabi, Miguel, and Joe know the meatpacking plant in their town makes everything smell like spoiled meat and manure. But they aren't prepared when their mean coach turns into a flesh-chomping zombie and attacks them in the middle of a cornfield. There's definitely something nefarious happening at Milrow Meat Solutions, and Rabi and his friends set out to reveal its secrets all while avoiding immigration agents, creepy clean-up crews, bullies, and zombie cows.

Is it any good?


ZOMBIE BASEBALL BEATDOWN mixes gross-out comedy with serious issues like immigration and food safety, a combination that doesn't always work as smoothly as some readers might prefer. Rabi and his friends Miguel and Joe are well-drawn and appealing characters, and their charm goes a long way toward making the story work as well as it does. They are, however, oddly unconcerned that their neighbors are turning into shambling zombies that have to be subdued with baseball beatings. Without it spoiling the fun, a bit more empathy might be appropriate.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why stories about zombies have become so popular. What is it about the idea of "the walking dead" that appeals to such a wide range of readers?

  • How safe do you think the food you eat is? What precautions should you take to ensure that what you eat is uncontaminated and healthy for you?


  • Why is immigration such a controversial issue, particularly in the United States? What are some arguments for reforming immigration laws?

Book details

Author:Paolo Bacigalupi
Topics:Sports and martial arts, Adventures, Friendship, Horses and farm animals, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:September 10, 2013
Number of pages:304
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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