August 10, 2009

JUNIOR ZOMBIE WEEK: Scooby-Doo! and the Rock 'n' Roll Zombie (Review)


Scooby-Doo! and
the Rock 'n' Roll Zombie

Written by Jesse Leon McCann
Illustrated by Duendes del Sur

Scholastic: 2007



4.5 / 5 zedheads

The zombie started to sing: "I'm the Rock 'n' Roll zombie, oh yeah, yeah! I'll bite your nose, and nibble on your toes!"

I love Scooby-Doo. Even as an adult, the formulaic detective adventures never seemed to lose their charm. I grew up with Shaggy, Scooby, Daphne, Fred, and Velma (especially Velma) but so have subsequent generations. Whole new generations of kids have had the pleasure of reliving the old Scooby-Doo cartoons in addition to new modern adventures of Mystery, Inc. Even had I not grow up with Scooby-Doo, were I a parent I would still read Scooby-Doo! and the Rock 'n' Roll Zombie to my little ones before bed or have them read it to me to improve their literacy. It's a breezy, simple story with simple sentences perfect for very young readers, but it's full of bright, rich full-page illustrations and exciting, expressive colours and cartoon characters.

In the book, Scooby and the Mystery Inc. gang have taken a break from hunting the usual crooks (guys disguised as ghosts, vampires, aliens, robots, witch doctors, etc.) to attend a concert featuring their favorite band: The Electric Pickle. However, things get spooky when a Rock 'n' Roll Zombie appears on stage and abducts the lead singer! If you know the plot of the cartoons, you know what happens next. Velma, Freddy, and Daphne look for clues as to the identity of the zombie while Shaggy and Scooby get into hijinks. A madcap chase with the monster ensues. Who is the zombie? Is it the band's greedy manager, Nigel Moneybucks? The jealous ex-girlfriend, Molly Twigg? Or the ex-band mate, Motley Mange?

Read Scooby-Doo! and the Rock 'n' Roll Zombie with your children and ask them to guess who they think did it. Stop every couple of pages and ask your little readers to recount the evidence for their choices. Simple detective stories like this one are great ways for young readers to practice their critical thinking and memory skills. Although this book never explains what zombies are, this book is a very simple and relatively grotesque-free introduction to the basic concept and iconography of the zombie (stiff arms, green skin, torn skin).

For being a fast-paced, colourful children's book, Scooby-Doo! and the Rock 'n' Roll Zombie is the perfect story for bed-time reading and family reading fun. If you can do a reasonable impression of Shaggy or Scooby-Doo, you can add even more fun to the dialogue in the story by reading out the lines as they do on the cartoon ("Roh-oh, a rombie").