cover image Peanut Butter & Brains: A Zombie Culinary Tale

Peanut Butter & Brains: A Zombie Culinary Tale

Joe McGee, illus. by Charles Santoso. Abrams, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4197-1247-0

The Walking Dead they ain’t—why, they’re barely decayed—but the blue-skinned zombies in this ripped-from-cable spoof are still intent on eating brains. Except, that is, for one zombie kid named Reginald, who craves peanut butter and jelly. Getting what he wants isn’t easy: when Reginald’s quest takes him to the school cafeteria, a lunch lady “slapped a hunk of meat loaf on his tray instead. It looked an awful lot like brains.” But the discovery that some things are even “better than brains” leads to a happily-ever-after ending for the living and the undead alike. Santoso’s (I Don’t Like Koala) ink-and-watercolor drawings sometimes lack a strong compositional punch, but they strike a successful silly-scary balance; in his best visual gag, Santoso uses speech bubbles filled with images of brains to convey the zombies’ single-minded focus. Striking a reportorial tone, newcomer McGee gets substantial comic mileage out of repeating the word “brains”—or “brainsssss,” as it’s evocatively spelled at several points. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Linda Epstein, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Justin Rucker, Shannon Associates, (Aug.)