'Dino-Zombies!' by Rick Chrustowski (Penguin Workshop, Tuesday), ages 6-8, 32 pages, $9.99 hardcover.
Not-terrifying cartoon zombies parade down a darkened street, going door to door for Halloween treats in this perky picture book for early readers. The gimmick is these zombies are un-dead dinosaurs.
Part of the appeal of premature paleontology is mastering those multi-syllabic common names — the ones adults learn they had better pronounce correctly if they don't want a lecture from a 6-year-old expert name enunciator. Here we meet Bronto-zombie, Zombie-dactyl, Tricera-zombie, Spino-zombie ... Zombie-saurus rex ... I sense a motif in these names. It might be fun to invite young readers to invent better ones.
Also, Zombie-dactyle changes size a bit, egad. Don't tell my long-gone prehistory fanboy.
Mostly fleshed-out, the gaudy critters' bodily decay is conveyed by abdominal cutouts through which white ribs gleam above colorful piles of candy, or by a bare neck, arm or leg bone.
Other fantasy monsters also wander the night. They gather for a costume party at which — surprise! — the dino-zombies win first place.
Everyone is so impressed.
Their costumes are the very best!
Chrustowski tells the story in rhyming couplets like that one, just one per page, and the bouncy meter is matched by lots of exclamation points! And yet, after the candy is all devoured, the scaly friends grow sleepy, and like good little picture-book animals eventually troop their rhyming way to bed.
They shuffle home, and through the door.
Dino-zombies roar no more.
Read to Me is a weekly review of short books for little people.