CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 40. . . .June 17, 2016
Poppy and Evan are best friends who love pretending they’re monsters, aliens, and other mythical creatures. Imagining what life would be like as a zombie at school or a ghost on the seven seas, they make up rhymes and have fun trying to outdo one another.
If I Were a Zombie is an entertaining book that showcases the endless possibilities of imagination. Poppy and Evan each create poems as they fantasize about being a variety of strange and exciting creatures, ranging from monsters to mermaids, and even regular human adults.
The layout of this book is unusual as readers do not follow Poppy and Evan’s adventures through a traditional narrative. Rather, the book is made of up poems, and the poems, themselves, are “created” by the main characters. The characters’ names are sometimes incorporated into the poems (such as when Evan considers life as a robot and tries out some robotic names like Evan-ator), and the illustrations show either Poppy or Evan as their imagined creature. There is not, however, any real plot or character development—the book is simply a collection of poems created by the two friends. There is a small blurb on the back cover and inside jacket of the book explaining who Poppy and Evan are, but since this information is not included at the beginning of the story, some readers may at first find If I Were a Zombie confusing.
The transition between poems is easy to follow, however, and the story’s style soon becomes apparent even without the plot setup. Different poems will appeal to different readers, but all of the poems encourage active participation. This book is not meant to be read silently. The poems lend themselves well to a hip-hop style of rhythm, with varying rhyming schemes and certain bits of text written in capital letters or an unusual font for emphasis. Since the characters of the story use the poems as part of a game, it’s easy to imagine these lines being enthusiastically delivered out loud. There is a great sense of energy in these pages, and because of its unique structure, If I Were a Zombie could add an interesting component to poetry studies. The playful illustrations by Eric Orchard make fantastic use of both colour and shadow. Each poem has its own illustration, with one of the two main characters shown as the subject of the poem (Evan shown as a zombie, Poppy as a ghost, etc.). The images have a bit of a darker edge with, for example, Poppy’s mermaid being shown as a menacing monster with a mouth full of sharp teeth, but even so the pictures are a delightful addition to the text. The illustrations are also useful for helping the audience to understand the world of the poems, as each turn of the page brings readers to a new poem and thus a new creative landscape.
This a fun read with a lot of potential for active play in the classroom or at home. If I Were a Zombie is a great choice for anyone who loves monsters, poetry, and imagination.
Meredith Cleversey, a librarian in Cambridge, ON, loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.