cover image Zombie in Love

Zombie in Love

Kelly DiPucchio, illus. by Scott Campbell. S&S/Atheneum, $12.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4424-0270-6

Zombies have filtered down from YA to middle readers, and now there's a picture book for the youngest zombie fans. Campbell, a comics and video game artist, gives Mortimer the zombie just the right degree of repellant charm%E2%80%94he has pet worms who play cards, a headstone for a computer monitor, and a goggle-eyed dog who gnaws on a hand that may or may not be real. Mortimer's gifts for girls fall flat (a still-beating heart, a ring on a disembodied finger), and he fears he won't find a date for Cupid's Ball. Nobody answers his personal ad, written to the tune of Rupert Holmes's "Escape" ("If you like taking walks in the graveyard/ and falling down in the rain"); it might be his smile, to which Campbell devotes a closeup%E2%80%94greenish, with fuzzy peg teeth. After rejections that will make lovelorn readers flinch, Mildred the girl zombie shows up at last, and she's "drop-dead gorgeous." DiPucchio (The Sandwich Swap) exchanges zombie horror for romantic agony; instead of fearing him, the thin-skinned will suffer right along with hapless Mortimer. Ages 4%E2%80%938. (Aug.)