The Zero Degree Zombie Zone, by Patrik Henry Bass (Scholastic Inc., August 2014, not quite middle grade) -- an exciting story of fourth-graders vs ice zombies!
Bakari Katari Johnson never wanted to be on the election slate for the position of Hall Monitor. Poised, popular Tariq had always done a fine job, and to go up against Tariq meant encuring the wrath of his most fervernt supporter, tough-as-nails (but sweet as all get out to grownups) Keisha. But to his horror, Bakari finds this his best friend Wardell has added his name to the list.
That is just the start to a very bad day indeed, one that involves the frozen seven-foot high lord of a land of ice zombies...who just happens to think that Bakari has his lost ring. Turns out Keisha has it. And so an unlikely alliance of the four kids is formed in order to take down the ice zombies popping into their school with evil intent.
But disposing of the zombies traps the kids in the ice realm, and the outlook gets rather chilly indeed....
This is one for the older elementary aged kid, the seven to nine year old/third or fourth grader, and it's short (131 pages of generous font with illustrations). So there's not really room to fully explore the backstory of the ice realm zombies and their overlord, and if there was an explanation of why the ring ended up in this particular school, I missed it. Those looking for full blown fantasy will therefore be disappointed.
But the four kids avoid being simple stock sterotypes, and the action is fast (zip! a trip to the ice land! Zap--more ice zombies after you in the halls! Cool ice-ring lassoing job, Keisha! etc.). If you have kids who aren't interested in the heft of full blown fantasy, who are simply looking for a fun book in which real life kids have real life problems alongside the excitement of ice zombie attacks in the cafeteria problems, this might very well be a good one. The illustrations add friendliness for the uncertain reader.
The Zero Degree Zombie Zone is, as far as I know, unique in that the entire cast is African American--four pretty cool looking kids, as shown on the cover, and not one of them white. So a good one for those actively seeking out multicultural kids' fantasy.
It is also a nice example of how to gracefully get out of running for an office you never wanted in the first place without loosing face (Bakari does a great job of this at the end of the book), which is truly a useful life lesson..........