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Brains For Lunch: A Zombie Novel in Haiku?!

Brains For Lunch: A Zombie Novel in Haiku?!

2.2 4
by K.A. Holt, Gahan Wilson (Illustrator)

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The difference being that this middle school novel is written entirely in Haiku. Loeb, its zombie protagonist has a problem: the object of his affection, Siobhan, is a lifer (i.e. human). What to do? In scenes set around a lunch table (the menu: brains) and around the school, eyes roll and jaws drop (literally). Also featured in the cast of characters is


The difference being that this middle school novel is written entirely in Haiku. Loeb, its zombie protagonist has a problem: the object of his affection, Siobhan, is a lifer (i.e. human). What to do? In scenes set around a lunch table (the menu: brains) and around the school, eyes roll and jaws drop (literally). Also featured in the cast of characters is Carl, a chupacabra (bloodsucking critter) and Mrs. Fincher, a sympathetic and seductive librarian.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gross-out humor and romantic tension enmesh in this clever novel told in haiku about a zombie (aka Z) named Loeb who falls for a "Lifer," Siobhan. Raising the stakes on the usual social jockeying of middle school, the Zs eat brains for lunch, which makes Lifers not only attractive but appetizing. "Try to play it cool/ She's a Lifer after all/ I could chomp her brain." Holt (Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel) excels at wordplay and a surprisingly sophisticated brand of slapstick ("She makes my face flush/ Or, I'm just putrefying/ Either way, I'm red"). This, mixed with the astutely observed social dynamics (zombies versus humans, with chupacabras thrown in for good measure) and the haiku form, which is an ideal vehicle for the kind of halted observations one expects from the undead, makes this a standout choice for reluctant readers. New Yorker artist Wilson's gruesome pen and ink cartoons of the deformed, bug-eyed students, not all of which were seen by PW, are also an inspired match, highlighting the self-doubt and angst of the preteen years, heartbeat or not. Ages 9-14. (Aug.)
From the Publisher

“A funny, irreverent, and unconventional verse offering that's sure to find wide curricular appeal.” —Booklist

“Gross-out humor and romantic tension enmesh in this clever novel told in haiku…a standout choice for reluctant readers.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

“Middle school poetry geeks will enjoy this funny, irreverent novel in verse.” —Library Media Connection

“This intriguing book definitely has an audience–one that appreciates, quite literally, tongue-in-cheek humor.” —School Library Journal

“The shuffle-and-stop rhythm of haiku is amusingly appropriate for the zombie narrator, and Holt's use of language is consistently clever and playful.” —SLJ Teen

Children's Literature - Sylvia Firth
With zombies currently enjoying great popularity in movies, comic books, etc., this title is a rather lame attempt to meet demand. Loeb, a zombie, is the main character. He is a typically awkward middle school pupil in a most unusual school. The student body is a mix of zombies, humans, known as lifers, and other odd bloodsucking creatures called chupacabras. All are presented in cartoon-like black and white illustrations. Loeb is very attracted to a human girl named Siobhan but does not know how to approach her. Mrs. Fincher the librarian suggests that he enter the school's haiku contest as a way to get Siobhan to notice him and realize that he is intelligent. But there is another complication. Zombies are not supposed to have anything to do with humans, except possibly to eat their brains. Loeb's friends Mags, Larry and Carl make his life miserable as they tease him about his crush on Siobhan. Predictably, Loeb wins the haiku contest and the girl. Relating the story in the minimal text of haiku makes it sometimes difficult to follow both the plot and actions of the characters. For a better, funnier depiction of the trials of middle school, try Gary Paulsen's newest title, Masters of Disaster. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth
VOYA - Barbara Allen
Loeb is challenged by life as a brain-eating zombie teenager. He would love to be normal, but he can't. He is a brainless zombie, or at least that is what he constantly hears from the world around him. He is tempted by a friend and a beautiful Lifer girl, Siobhan, to try a potion that will make him smarter. He doesn't think it works, so he doesn't try it. His librarian then motivates him to enter the schoolwide poetry contest that, normally, only Lifers enter to prove that anyone can be smart. She gives him a book of haiku to inspire him. Throughout his day, Loeb is faced with trouble and ends up in detention. He tries to focus on his poetry for the contest but keeps getting distracted by Lifers, zombies, and an occasional chupocabra. He finally gets his moment on stage at the contest and steals the show. He also finds the love of a girl, Siobhan. The central theme of this tale is that anyone can succeed as long as he or she tries and works hard to achieve a goal. Just because people say you are dumb doesn't mean you should believe them. Holt uses the creative method of haiku to support her theme, making the story short and easy for young students to grasp. The novel includes great illustrations from Gahan Wilson which add a depth of understanding to the limited words of Holt's haikus. Reviewer: Barbara Allen
School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—Middle school is hard enough for the living, but for Loeb it's especially dreadful. He is a thoughtful zombie whose classmates are fellow zombies, Lifers (regular humans), and blood-sucking creatures known as Chupos. His school is a boiling pot of rivalries and segregations. Things get interesting for Loeb when the librarian (a Lifer) encourages him to read some of his haiku at open-poetry night. Subplots include a Lifer who is romantically interested in Loeb and tensions within the different groups that mount when one being mingles with another. The novel is told through a series of haiku, a form that is comically ideal for zombie dialogue. While the book appears to be an easy read, this poetic form will appeal to skilled readers who are comfortable navigating this narrative technique. The novel jumps right into the story, and readers are required to interpret the characters, setting, and situations quickly; the poetic form does not allow for detailed character and plot development and it is sometimes difficult to discern which character is speaking. Holt employs gross-out humor that will appeal to her audience: the zombies' bodies are constantly falling apart and the novel begins, appropriately, with a haiku about eating brains, "Brains for lunch again/'Stop moaning and just eat it.'/Lunch lady humor." Wilson's pen-and-ink illustrations complement the text and zombies are shown as creatures surrounded by flies, swarming with worms, and constantly struggling to keep their bodies intact. This intriguing book definitely has an audience—one that appreciates, quite literally, tongue-in-cheek humor.—Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI

Product Details

Roaring Brook Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
9 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Brains for Lunch

A Zombie Novel in Haiku?!

By K. A. Holt, Gahan Wilson

Roaring Brook Press

Copyright © 2010 Kari Anne Roy
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-59643-629-9



Brains for lunch again
"Stop moaning and just eat it."
Lunch lady humor

Dead-on lunchroom stare
Her eyes bore holes like earthworms
Soft and unyielding

"What do you want, Mags?"
I mouth words over the din
"You want my pudding?"

An eye roll response
George catches it, hands it back
An eyeball shortstop

Geek table awaits
Larry brags about fresh flesh
He is full of lies

Also full of flies
Charlie Brown's undead Pig Pen
Larry is so gross

Nothing stops my mouth
"Just shut up for once, Larry."
The fly buffet stands

"Up yours, Loeb," he says.
Then he gives me the finger
I give it back. Yuck.

"Leave Loeb alone, yo.
And move your stinking carcass."
That's Matt. He's my friend.

Larry staggers off
"Stupid, fat, fly-filled dodo."
Matt feels brave, I guess

Dissonant buzzing
Larry returns for round two
Matt gives me his tray

I step between them
Could lunch be any more dumb?
Larry takes a swing

My jawbone takes flight
I'm always in the middle
"Break it up, you guys!"

It's Mrs. Fincher
Why's the librarian here?
I guess she eats, too

"Go get your jaw, Loeb."
If my jaw was still attached
It would fall open

How does she know me?
I only gaze from afar
"Loeb! Go. Get. Your. Jaw."

It is on Mags tray
Of course that's where it would land
"Just can't shut your mouth."

Maggie grins at me
Her eyes, though, are not smiling
She hands me my bone

"Sorry 'bout that, Mags."
There's a satisfying pop
She just stares at me

Chairs are scattering
Seven minutes 'til late bell
Brain pudding, wasted

Matt's at my locker
"Makes you smarter, my main man."
He leans over me

Give him dirty look
"What are you talking about?"
"Smell my neck, playa."

"Sweat from a Lifer."
A bottle shakes in my face
Drops cling to its side

"Where did you get that?"
Matt cocks his head to the left
"From the Lifer quad?!"

I'm incredulous
"Crossed the invisible line?
You're that desperate?"

"That line is stupid."
Matt shakes the bottle again
"De-seg says it is."

Hair clumps in place. Check.
"And look how well de-seg works." I gestured around

Only Zs right here
Not a Lifer to be seen
They keep their distance

"There's a girl. Siobhan."
I eyed him skeptically
"I think she likes me."


Excerpted from Brains for Lunch by K. A. Holt, Gahan Wilson. Copyright © 2010 Kari Anne Roy. Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

K.A. Holt is a writer, a terrible cook, and a mother of three (not necessarily in that order). When she's not busy imagining how she would survive a zombie apocalypse, she's busy imagining how she will survive the day. Kirkus and Publishers Weekly praised her first book for children, MIKE STELLAR: NERVES OF STEEL, with words like precocious and complex, and savvy and sharp.

GAHAN WILSON is an author, cartoonist, and illustrator. His work has appeared in THE NEW YORKER and COLLIER'S Weekly among other publications. He is a very prolific and celebrated illustrator.

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Brains For Lunch: A Zombie Novel in Haiku?! 2.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The stinking thing is only cpoyrights and the book is horrible!ONE STAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!....................actuly zero if i could
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its only copyrights
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yo kria m what even teens read too eny way? (Plus it sounds stuped. Eny one agere? Wite back
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
In a school where humans, zombies, and chupacabras co-exist, there's never a dull day. When Loeb meets Siobhan, a lifer (human), she seems interested in him. She, however, thinks that zombies aren't smart. To prove her wrong, he enters a haiku poetry competition. Should be simple, since zombies talk in haiku anyway, right? Wrong. Loeb's poetic abilities seem to have frozen up. Can he win the competition and get the girl - without eating her brains? A funny, mixed-up book for zombie lovers. Not too strong on the lovey-dovey stuff, this book is an excellent addition to fiction for boys. The characters are funny and memorable, and the haikus are fairly simple to follow most of the time. The plot seems to have an easy time holding the reader's interest. Reluctant and avid readers who like zombies, stories about surviving middle school, paranormal fiction, and humorous tales will all enjoy BRAINS FOR LUNCH.