Cover Image: A Small Zombie Problem

A Small Zombie Problem

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A Small Zombie Problem is the first in a middle grade series about August DuPont. Many months ago the description hooked me with the prospect of zombies and a Tim Burton-esq flair and the book delivered. 

August is a young by living with his aunt in a run-down old house. They are barely hanging on and aunt Hydrangea is living too much in the past and also deadly afraid of butterflies. August is homeschooled and lonely, so when he is tricked out of the house he learns that he has more family nearby and is invited to tea. One thing leads to another and then a zombie shows up and august is trying his best to get rid of her with little luck.

The plot of this book, since it is the first in a series, is a lot of build up, which is nice. We learn about August and his aunt, and the overall family and their secrets and weirdness. There is conflict and some is resolved quickly but the zombie problem seems longer lasting (as the series title would suggest). The characters were interesting and quirky and I laughed at them throughout. They were over-the-top stereotypes which is annoying at times, but worked for comedic effect. 

Overall, this was a fun start to a middle grade series. It is not too spooky, but just weird enough. I think that young lovers of Halloween, the strange and unusual, and those that like zombies. Also a great choice for SPOOKY SEASON woohoo October!!
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Droll, Absurd, Heartwarming

I was amused, impressed, and entertained by this odd, and oddly endearing, book. In some respects it's similar to the work I admire from Roald Dahl and David Walliams, but it also carves out some fresh territory of its very own.

The setup is classic. August, a kind, observant, good natured boy in unusual circumstances has grown up without ever having left his rundown family mansion. According to the fictional rule of the "inciting incident" he is called upon to leave the premises and have an adventure. Along the way this innocent abroad accidentally reanimates a young girl and so ends up with a girl zombie sidekick. None of this barebones summary gives you a sense of how delightful the book is, but it at least gives you an idea of the plot, such as it is.

The real fun here is in the deadpan unflappable hero, the understated oddness of pretty much everything that happens, the charm and quirkiness of virtually every character, and the twisty unexpectedness of many of the twists and turns of the tale. There's a hidden treasure macguffin that keeps the plot wheels spinning, but that's all beside the point. There's whimsy of course, but a bracing undercurrent of sterner stuff that keeps the book from being cutesy

This is a story about family and the ties that bind. It's about adventure and making your way. It is very much about friendship and, of all things, making the honorable choice. With all the wordplay and slightly antic action, the book is mostly about goodness and kindness. 

On that last point, there is a line in the book I want to get right because it encapsulates the unusual and engaging feel of this book overall. MILD SPOILER. At one point our hero is humiliated, in front of a large crowd, at a big party, by his cousin. He is hurt and embarrassed. That's not an unusual scene for a middle grade book like this, especially one involving a timid and shy kid. The author describes August's hurt and dismay. But then there is an odd narrative aside; something I don't recall ever seeing in a book like this.  Here it is - "If you are saddened by the lack of compassion in such a large gathering of people, please take heart. There were, in fact, many expressions of pity and concern in the crowd, but August simply did not see them." I like authors who are edgy and sharp and sometimes push middle grade readers around. But I don't think I've read another one who is so good about picking that reader up and dusting him off after knocking him down. I just liked that.

Anyway, this is the first book in a proposed series. It ends with our two buddies looking at the next stage of their adventure, (searching for the macguffin). I will eagerly await that next volume, because I was just so taken by this first book. This was an excellent find.

(Please note that I received a free ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
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A Small Zombie Problem is a very serious and very silly tale about family, freedom, and zombies. The prose is genteel and sophisticated with tongue placed firmly in cheek, but it displays a great deal of empathy for its unfortunate main character. The narrative follows the misadventures of August DuPont, a young boy who attracts butterflies wherever he goes—which isn’t very far, since he hasn’t left his dilapidated house in his entire life thanks to his Aunt Hydrangea, a disgraced hot sauce heiress and the Miss Havisham of the bayou pageant circuit. When August receives an invitation to visit family he didn’t know he had, he sets off a chain of events involving zombies, undertakers, feral mystics, a giant white alligator, and a particularly memorable crawfish boil.

As you can see, this book is A Lot. I must admit that it took me a good quarter of the book to acclimate to the tone. At first I found it cloyingly twee—think of a self-conscious Southern-fried mashup of Tim Burton and Wes Anderson—but I eventually settled in and found myself enjoying it quite a bit. There’s more than a passing resemblance between this book and A Series of Unfortunate Events, which I do not care for at all, so I’m sure the similarity colored my perception at first. (That may come as quite a surprise, considering the general thrust of this blog. I’m just not a fan of art that is overly precious or impressed with itself, and A Series of Unfortunate Events has always struck me as being far too self-aware in its cleverness and quirkiness. I’ve tried to make it through the first book a few times and just couldn’t do it. On the bright side, if you’re a fan of that series you will likely love this book.)

Once I eased into the groove of A Small Zombie Problem, I found a story that was funny, suspenseful, wacky, touching, wise, and mildly disgusting, which is a marvelous combination for a kids’ book. It’s thrilling and inspiring when August stands up to his neurotic but kind-hearted Aunt Hydrangea and decides to “star in his own life”—braving the hordes of butterflies that follow him everywhere and the duplicitous relatives who toy with his emotions—so that he can make his own decisions and see what life has to offer outside of his lonely, crumbling house. August and his zombie companion grew on me a great deal over the course of this book, so I’m excited to read about their adventures in Book 2…plus, I really want to know what’s going on with that giant white alligator.
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This was a really cute story about August, who is a little strange, made even stranger by the small zombie problem :) It was engaging, I loved the illustrations, and it is filled with humor and heart. I
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This is a very cute series opener. The illustrations and the zombie premise will bring in those reluctant readers.
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Pity poor August DuPont, a boy who has spent a cloistered life of genteel poverty with his hypochondriac Aunt Hydrangea in sweltering southern Louisiana. She is so frightened of life that even butterflies terrify her. But when the zombie Claudette becomes enamored of him, August discovers who his real friends are and what really living means.

Despite a too-abrupt ending, A Small Zombie Problem otherwise provides a great read, never preachy and — dare I say it? — always genteel. Author K.G. Campbell has begun what’s guaranteed to be a very enjoyable series. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley, Random House Children’s and Knopf Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.
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I liked this one better than I thought I might, given that I'm not really into zombie stories. It has a heavy dose of quirky humor. I mean, we start wit ha housebound boy who is irresistible to butterflies. A stone with the magic ability to create zombies. And a lot of eccentric rich people. The general thrust of the plot with strange happenings and general misadventure is reminiscent of A Series of Unfortunate Events.
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Starts as a cute read, but becomes gory in some parts. (a character loses a body part). Slow in presenting the zombies, but is only the first book in the series. 
I'm trying to be ambiguous not to spoil anything.
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I read an ARC of this book through NetGalley. I knew nothing about it other than the cover looked interesting and the title promised zombies. I found A Small Zombie Problem to be a really fun, zany, quirky adventure.

The book, in my opinion, has a very British feel, despite being set in the South. I actually enjoyed the narrative voice quite a bit, so it didn’t bother me when something would happen and I’d be reminded that it was set here in the USA.

I also, given the character’s outfits in illustrations, felt like the book was set in the past, but occasionally a character would do something like pull out a phone, and I would be reminded that it was set in the present. This aspect was a bit jarring, but I also think it was intentional because many of the characters are very much set in the past, all while things are crumbling down around them.

I especially enjoyed how the zombie is introduced. Without giving too much away, I will say it was kind of neat how the zombie just sort of drops into the story without much explanation. The reader must discover what on earth this supernatural creature is doing in an otherwise ordinary world right along with the main character.

Final Verdict

If you are looking for a fun, easy-on-the-horror zombie story with some heart, check this title out!
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August DuPont is living with his eccentric Aunt Hydrangea in a home that is slowly falling apart.  August has a strange problem.  He attracts butterflies.  The butterflies will land on his head, his shoulders, and so forth.  He doesn’t know anyone but his aunt.  Why?  When he sees a boat, he watches a girl who lives on the boat.  He watches a tv with binoculars that is on her boat.  He isn’t allowed outside as his aunt worries for his safety.  When his Aunt Orchid issues an invitation to August, he decides that he is going. aunt Hydrangea doesn’t want him to go.  Why?  As he walks to Aunt Orchid’s home, he meets a girl who is undead in a cemetery he walks by.  She won’t leave him alone.  She ends up in the river when August throws her eyeball there.  After having a chat with his Aunt Hydrangea, the undead girl shows up in his home.  What will August tell his aunt?

The author writes a novel that is a portrait of a boy with history discovered about his ancestors and the magic included in that ancestry.  There is also the undead girl (a zombie) who wants a friend.   I enjoyed reading the story as there is humor besides the mystery of his ancestors.  I recommend the first book of this series.
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Thank you to Netgalley and to Random House Kids for the digital ARC of A SMALL ZOMBIE PROBLEM. It's the first in what looks to be a fun series by the illustrator of Flora & Ulysses. K.G. Campbell has written picture books, but this is his MG debut as an author/illustrator.

Our charmingly dorky hero August DuPont, a butterfly magnet, has spent his entire life shut up in a crumbling mansion with his agoraphobic, lepidopterophobic (it's a word, look it up) aging beauty queen great Aunt Hydrangea as she mourns the demise of the DuPont hot sauce empire.

It all starts when the grocery delivery boy accidentally drops August's box of moon pies in the DuPont driveway, forcing him to leave his home. There August meets neighborhood kids who tell him he's rumored to be a ghost, and that he has cousins living nearby. Their great aunt, of course, is heiress to a rival, bad-guy hot sauce company who probably stole their recipe from the DuPonts.

It's on his first walk home from his loathsome cousins' house that, naturally, August hears scratching in a nearby mausoleum and makes the acquaintance of a zombie girl named Claudette. She's beautiful and charming (save the fact that her eyes keep falling out) and August needs to protect his new friend from his newfound great aunt's evil schemes.

This is a really gory story - Claudette loses a body part at a fancy ice cream parlor - but told with such flowery prose and situational irony the reader hardly notices.

The story is somewhat slow to get going, with the initial zombies not appearing till later in the book. Also, Campbell's storytelling style is spot-on neo-Victorian omniscient narrator (amazing in League of Beastly Dreadfuls, Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, etc), that the first reference to television was a bit jarring.

A SMALL ZOMBIE PROBLEM is out June 4, 2019 from Random House Kids, and is first in the Zombie Problems series.

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Cute read, but hard to tell what year and local the book is set in. I am excited for the second book.
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Quirky book designed to appeal to 3-5th graders who enjoy zombies but do not want to be terrified by the typical gruesome and undead. August has lived his entire life with his odd aunt in a decaying mansion, hidden from everyone. Turns out, his family used to be wealthy, but another branch of the family tree set them on the path to ruin. But a missing gemstone may be the way back to the former days of glory. Except that this stone calls to the dead and now August seems to have acquired his first friend in a family member long since passed on and she’s not going anywhere unless that rock can be found. Campbell’s story includes other interesting family eccentricities and some lessons in friendship. Readers will likely be intrigued by the concept of a stone that brings forth the undead, but just as things begin to get interesting, the book ends without wrapping up any of poor August’s circumstances. It’s a quick to read chapter book, but unless subsequent books come rapidly, I don’t know that it will be memorable enough for my library patrons to wait very long for more.
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I received A Small Zombie Problem by K.G. Campbell from NetGalley to read and review. This book will be the first in the Zombie Problems Series. I loved it! The character of August was interesting, different, and very likable. I want to know what happens to him in the next books! I loved the story of August and his "small zombie problem". I think it was inventive and different from other children's books I've read. The lessons learned by August are tough but true, and the way they were told and explained was comforting. I appreciated how the tough, painful lessons about friendship were portrayed in this book through August's story. I'm looking forward to reading more "Zombie Problems" in the future.
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Great for zombie lovers. Simple, basic book, but we have many students asking for zombie books. This will be a great series to invest in.
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A Small Zombie Problem was a fun read. My son and I read it together and enjoyed it. We give it five stars. We can not wait to continue the Zombie Problems series.
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"'Little dead girls have no business running around scaring folks half to death!'"

I received a free e-ARC through NetGalley from the publishers at Random House Children's. Trigger warnings: death, mild body horror, mild eye horror, bullying, anxiety, agoraphobia.

August DuPont has never left the battered old house where he lives with his Aunt Hydrangea, a former Chili Pepper Princess who's mortally afraid of butterflies. When he receives a surprise invitation from another aunt he never knew he had, he dares to brave the outside world in the hopes of having friends, schooling, and adventures of his own. On his way home, he accidentally stumbles upon a small zombie problem... a problem that, unfortunately, follows him home and threatens to take all the "normal" out of his new life.

A Small Zombie Problem is a middle-grade novel in the style of Tim Burton meets Lemony Snicket, without the bitter cynicism. The world is slightly off-kilter and full of larger-than-life (and, at times, borderline ridiculous) adults and children who stumble across strangeness in everyday life. Campbell's slightly magical and imaginary South is full of clever quirks, from giant white alligators to necromancy stones. The characters are distinct but feel familiar, and August's dreams of making friends and having adventures (based mainly on watching television) are easy to relate to. Of course, my favorite character is the zombie, and I love that she's actually a character--not just a plot device or a mindless antagonist.

Unfortunately, the pace is very slow. There's no hint of a zombie or a real conflict for the first half of the book. Younger audiences who enjoy reading won't have a problem delving into Campbell's world-building and characters, but those who already struggle with reading might find the lack of action trying (and a zombie novel sort of implies there's going to be a lot of action). It's also clear that this is the first book in a series, since there are a number of elements introduced that don't pan out in this book. I expected Madame Marvell to play more of a role, and while I'm certain the alligator will feature eventually, it's little more than a side note here. One of the smallest plot threads wraps up to satisfaction, but there isn't much closure to be had elsewhere. The ending itself is purposely open-ended as a lead-in to the next book.

However, there's a lot to enjoy about it. Theme-wise, the novel prompts readers to examine the differences between expectations and reality and how things might be okay even if they don't work out the way we imagined. There's also a heavy note of how, good or bad, people aren't always what they appear to be, and I enjoyed Campbell turning the tables on us once or twice. It's a cute, fun read, and I'd be happy to continue with the series.

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Fantastic! Very interesting and unique story as well as vocabulary, with good humor. Looking eagerly forward to the future books of this series!
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Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgally for review purposes.

So refreshing! I didn't have high expectations, or any expectations really, going into this book but I came out so happy to have read it.

August isn't the most normal boy, to no fault of his own. He lives as a shut in with his eccentric aunt, and he emits an odor that only butterflies can smell - making him the target of constantly being followed by them. Sadly for August, he's about to get a little weirder when a small zombie problem happens 😉

This book never got boring. It was fast paced and exciting and new! There's so many of the same plots out there but this idea seemed fresh and original, making me take a second to go "who thinks of that??" 

Memorable characters, filled with heart, and a wonderful story that I would recommend...for all ages too!

Oh and the pictures were adorable.
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My students and I had high expectations for A Small Zombie Problem. My kids loved Flora and Ulysses so they were excited that K.G. Campbell was writing his own book. That being said...this was kind of a mess. I teach 4th grade and my higher kids loved this and my lower kids were utterly confused. Its a cute and kind of weird story of a shut-in named August living with his weirdo aunt in a crumbling mansion. Drama ensues when August leaves the house for the first time and meets another aunt and cousins he didn't know he had. As an adult, I thought this book was cute and I appreciated the setting since I'm from Louisiana. 
My issues were that, this book is marketed for middle grades and from the cover and ending, would appear to be the first in a series. The plot has way too much going on. Zombies, shut-ins, rare gemstones, long lost family, etc. It's a lot and it's confusing. I found myself retelling most of the story every day so my students could remember what happened the day before. Like I said, the ones who could keep up loved it. The rest looked like they were in pain. The second and main issue I have is the language. This. Book. Is. WAY. Too. Hard. I plowed through reading this aloud for the first day or two and finally ended up skipping words or substituting words an elementary student could understand. The vocabulary in this book is fantastic...for a high schooler doing SAT prep. This is not the type of book your average middle grade student is going to be able to pick up and stick with. I would want to give up reading it too.
I gave this 3 stars because I enjoyed it as a light read that was quirky and kind of cute. A Small Zombie Problem is way too hard and too much for the age range it is intended.
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