Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Dead Rose From Their Graves

Wake the Dead
by Monica A. Harris
Illustrations by Susan Estelle Kwas
Walker & Company, Inc.

In Wake the Dead, Henry is having a loud day. He is so loud in fact that his entire family warns him his rowdy, boisterous behavior will “wake the dead.” Ignoring their warning, he keeps up his wild ruckus throughout the house. Well, lo and behold, guess what? He wakes the dead! So rudely awakened, the reanimated corpses crawl out of their coffins and peel themselves from their graves to find the source of the racket.

In a delightfully disturbing slapdash adventure, the zombies, in drop dead gorgeous designer fashion, make their way across town tracing the noise to its source. With many stops along the way, such as at the library (“I expect dead silence in here!”), city hall (nothing but “skeletons in the closets”), and the community pool (“awesome dead man’s float!”), the formerly breathing set finally sense the noisemaker “dead ahead.”

When the zombie crew meets Henry face to face in the field, he is very eager to rectify the situation. After failed attempts to get things back to the status quo, i.e., corpses resting peacefully below ground or in their mausoleums and little boys playing with their dogs without fear of the zombie invasion, Henry finds the perfect solution to whisk the corpses off to dream land. In the end Henry learns his lesson and I bet he will be a bit more mindful when his folks ask him to keep it down.

The illustrations in this book are quite kooky, with an etching-like appearance, particularly on the darker hues. Given the subject matter of zombies raising from the grave, the author and illustrator make a quality synthesis of text and images to reflect the target audience of this book. The linguistic style of the book relies heavily on wordplay and the pun. The pun, despite your feelings about its use in conversation, when used in story, is a great way for children to experience different meanings in language and to experiment with the versatility of words. The silly scenarios in the book are bound to evoke a few giggle fits, in young and not so young alike. I really appreciated the fanciful and lighthearted approach the author took in this book and found it to be very effective in the creation of a quality picture book. Overall, this book is a delight and it is the perfect choice for a little one that is looking for something a bit more macabre than the standard fare.


  1. Hey guys it's Anina from Shepherd Park. Just want to say I am reading and enjoying your blog. And I wanted to suggest The Grey lady and the Strawberry Snatcher by Molly Bang because it is the creepiest thing ever.

  2. Hey there!

    Glad to hear you like what you see, and we'll definitely look those up. Thanks for the feedback, Anina. :D

  3. I have the Strawberry Snatcher on my list of books to review. I have 2 others up ahead of it.

    Glad you are liking it. It's as fun to write as it is to read.