Written by Kelly DiPucchio, Illustrated by Scott Campbell
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011
Mortimer was lonely. Cupid’s Ball was just a few weeks away and he didn’t have a sweetheart.
Eek! It’s a: Zombie!
Mortimer is having trouble finding a date for the Cupid’s Ball. This may have something to do with the fact that he’s dead. He tries giving gifts to girls he’s interested in, but when the heart you give a girl is an actual human heart, she’s more likely to run away than return your calls. He tries (in vain) to impress the ladies, but nothing worked. One day, he gets an idea and runs a personal ad (that is eerily similar to the one in the Pina Colada song). He goes to the ball and waits by the punch bowl, hoping someone will answer his ad. Eventually a girl shows up who is everything he’s looking for…including dead. The book ends as they share a brain at a picnic in a graveyard.
Wow. Zombies have officially gone platinum when they show up like this in a picture book. Although the plot sounds truly morbid, the overall tone of the book is more comical than scary. Author Kelly DiPucchio throws in lots of humorous word choices, such as the girl being ‘drop-dead gorgeous’ that keep the feeling light and funny. And illustrator Scott Campbell’s watercolor artwork is too cartoony to feel ominous. In addition, many of the pictures are loaded with visual gags. When these two hold hands, they do so quite literally.
If you find yourself completely smitten with this book, you may want to consider a trip to Portland, Oregon in March of next year. The Oregon Children’s Theater will be staging a musical version of the book. (They are also performing The Giver and Fancy Nancy this season! Why do I not live in Portland?) And if you are still looking for that special someone in your life, take it from Mortimer – never give up!
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that it’s not about finding someone to be your sweetheart. It’s about finding the RIGHT one to be your sweetheart.