Rumble with the Romans!

Gary Northfield. Candlewick, $15.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7853-1
In this cracked “careful what you wish for” tale, first in the Julius Zebra series, a dim-witted talking zebra inadvertently trades an unhappy existence in the African plains to train in the art of gladiatorial combat. Disgusted by the lake where all the animals bathe, drink, and poop, Julius wanders off, only to be kidnapped by centurions and shipped off to Rome with other wild beasts destined to become fodder for the Colosseum’s gladiators. Northfield, creator of the Derek the Sheep comic strip, introduces some ancient history along the way (the page numbers are written in Roman numerals, a glossary defines several English and Latin terms, and fellow captive Cornelius the warthog sums up the Romans by saying, “Basically, they want to take over lots of other strange lands—mainly by beating everyone up!”), but the screwball comedy is what will pull readers in. Julius is slightly daft, but he can be cocky, too: if Greg Heffley were a zebra, this might be his diary, complete with scratchy cartoon illustrations of the goings-on as Julius and his friends attempt to outwit death. Ages 7–10. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/18/2016
Release date: 04/12/2016
Genre: Children's
Compact Disc - 978-1-5113-7208-4
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-5113-7210-7
MP3 CD - 978-1-5113-7207-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-5113-7206-0
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