The Last Kids on Earth

My latest read, also a nominee for the 17-18 South Carolina Children’s Book Award, is so popular with my students that I had to buy a new copy and read it quickly before adding it to my library collection. After reading it myself, I can see what all the fuss is about.

The Last Kids on Earth, the first book in a series written by Max Brallier and illustrated by Douglas Holgate, is a hilariously funny look at a world that has been taken over by monsters and zombies. Yes, I know that doesn’t sound like a premise for a funny book, but it totally works here. That’s primarily because of the voice of the main character, Jack Sullivan, and the awesome illustrations peppered throughout the book. You’ll see what I mean when you give this book a whirl.

Move over, Diary of a Wimpy Kid. You’ve got some serious competition here.

Jack Sullivan didn’t set out to be an action hero, but it just can’t be helped when the world is ravaged by the monster apocalypse. Alone and on the lookout for his best friend, Jack lives in a tricked-out treehouse, and he occupies his time by completing increasingly dangerous, self-imposed challenges–or Feats of Apocalyptic Success. Anything to keep monsters, zombies, and boredom at bay.

Unfortunately for Jack (who has endured more than his share of misfortune already), he’s attracted the attention of the worst monster he’s ever encountered, a fearsome creature called Blarg. Jack’s going to require some help to defeat Blarg–if that’s even possible–so he needs Quint, his best friend and a scientific genius, more than ever. Luckily, things are about to look up a bit for Jack.

Jack eventually reunites with Quint, and the two really get to work on making their treehouse home into a true fortress. We’re talking spikes, catapults, bottle-rocket launchers, and much more. They even have a souped up vehicle called Big Mama with monster-fighting capabilities. And when they team up with Dirk, a reformed school bully, and Rover, a lovable dog-like monster, these guys may just be unstoppable. Jack may finally have what he needs to complete his ultimate Feat of Apocalyptic Success–rescuing June Del Toro, his longtime crush.

Jack is sure that June is still out there somewhere, a damsel is distress just waiting for him to save her. He and his crew go on a search for June in their old middle school, but they’re not exactly prepared for what they find. It seems that June doesn’t really need rescuing. (She’s saved herself, thank you very much.)

June is a warrior in her own right, and she somewhat reluctantly agrees to join forces with Jack and company…and just in the nick of time, too. The ferocious Blarg is making a beeline for Jack, and he’ll need all the help he can get to defeat this big baddie.

Will Jack and friends be able to destroy Blarg so they can get back to their regularly scheduled monster apocalypse? Stay tuned to find out!

Given that this is the first book in a series, I’m pretty sure you can guess how the action in The Last Kids on Earth turns out. Read it anyway. The humor alone makes this book worth reading, whether you can predict the ending or not.

When it comes to using this book in a classroom setting, I can see this being hugely popular as a read-aloud, especially in 4th or 5th grades, maybe even in middle school classrooms. Kids (and adults) are sure to laugh out loud, and they’ll experience a truly stellar example of a character’s voice driving a story.

I am 100% terrified of zombies, but I couldn’t get enough of this book, and I’m eager to read the second installment, The Last Kids on Earth and the Zombie Parade. (Yippee. More zombies.) If book two is anything like the first, I’m sure I’ll be highly entertained. It’s already out, and I have several new copies in the library, so I’ll read it in the near future.

According to Goodreads, there should be at least one more book in this series, The Last Kids on Earth and the Nightmare King. It should be out on September 26th of this year. If that’s the case, I’ll make a run to the bookstore as soon as I can to get a bunch of copies for my students…and myself, of course.

If you’d like to learn more about The Last Kids on Earth, visit author Max Brallier’s website. You may also want to take a look at the book trailer below. It gives a bit more information on this book than I covered in my post. Enjoy!

Zombie Blondes

I don’t know why I continue to read books that are probably going to give me nightmares, but I do.  My latest nightmare-inducing read is Zombie Blondes by Brian James.  I know the word “zombie” in the title should have tipped me off, but the book’s cover (what looks like a Barbie looking blankly at the reader) led me to mistakenly believe that I would be reading a funny-ish story on a town where all the popular, stick-thin, blue-eyed blondes were zombies.  (It kind of made sense to me, and I began to wonder if someone I knew who shall remain nameless was in fact a zombie).  Well, this story wasn’t funny, but all that other stuff was true.

Hannah and her father have just moved to Maplecrest, and it soon becomes clear that there’s something weird about this town.  There seems to be an over-abundance of For Sale signs in front of the homes around town, and the entire community is obsessed with the football team and the cheerleading squad.  The members of these two organizations are all popular, gorgeous, blue-eyed blondes.  Hannah doesn’t really think anything of it until she meets Lukas, an outsider who tells her that all of these people are zombies.

Hannah discounts Lukas as a freak, but he’s the only person who bothers to talk to her, at least until she decides to try out for the cheerleading squad.  After all, he’s probably just jealous of all these popular kids.  There can’t be any truth to his stories, right?  Hannah soon discovers that the price of popularity can be way too high to pay.  Is she willing to pay it?  Does she have any choice?  Are all the popular kids really zombies?  Why do people seem to disappear without anyone caring?  I’ll let you figure it out for yourselves…

Although I kind of liked this book, it was a little on the scary side for me.  (I’m a wuss.)  Also, the ending was not nice and neat.  Far from it.  Perhaps we’ll see more of Hannah and the mysterious town of Maplecrest in the future.  Read Zombie Blondes by Brian James and think about the popular kids you know…maybe they’re not kids at all.