Friday, May 20, 2011

"This is when my heart would beat." -- Brains for Lunch

This week I read Brains For Lunch, a short, lovely and funny novel written entirely in haiku by K. A. Holt, a writer who I've admired a lot over the past several years for her brilliant tweets in the voice of Chaucer ("Fye the dregs who weareth blootooth sets upon theyr heds. Do you speeketh to me or to demones wither sleepe tween your eares?").

Brains for Lunch, though, is a full story about a zombie in middle school. There's a brilliant sort of dance here as Holt moves from gross-out humor (the zombies seem to be rotting and falling apart, like the dragging corpses in Thriller, which Holt references) while also being sort of sweet. The main character and narrator is Loeb, a zombie (or "Z") with a circle of friends (including a zombie girl named Mags and a thuggish Chupacabra) who can't seem to catch a break and bears a huge crush on the school librarian.

I stammer something
And then she's back at her desk
A gorgeous cliche
The librarian thinks that Loeb is smart enough to enter a haiku contest. This strikes Loeb as possible, too, because of something that I did not know about haiku:

Wouldn't be so hard
It's how Z's talk anyway
Maybe I should try
Will Loeb come up with some haiku to read that will win over his classmates and maybe even the heart of a mortal ("lifer") girl? Will his friends support him in the contest, which will be dominated by lifers?

"They're all so smart
with their shiny hair and brains
No way I'm going."
Brains for Lunch is a sweet, short book for 6th to 8th graders. It shows both brains and heart, which is a lot to ask of any book.

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