Friday, October 27, 2017

Zombie Baseball Beatdown


"Don’t let the title completely fool you. Yes, there are zombies, there is baseball, and there is in fact a zombie baseball beatdown (so cool!). Paolo Bacigalupi’s middle reader novel is a whole lot of fun, but also, he packs quite the socially-conscious message, too. It’s a book for both the reluctant kid, and the kid who wants to read something with substance.
Zombie Baseball Beatdown is about an Indian boy named Rabi (a non-white protagonist), who lives in a small town in corn-country Iowa. A meat-packing plant supplies most of the jobs for the residents, and supplies the beef for seven neighboring states. He plays on the baseball team (or tries to) with his friend Joe, and best friend Miguel, as well as arch-enemy and bully, Sammy, who’s dad runs the Milrow Meat Solutions. And it’s the dad, Mr. Riggoni, who not only is behind pumping his fields of cows with drugs, feeding them full of chicken bones and scraps, and leaving them boxed-in like sardines in their own shit, and not to mention, has deported a number of his regular workers --which included Miguel’s mom, dad, uncle, and aunt-- only because they were forced to work in terrible conditions and wanted to go public. And it’s this tainted meat that’s creating these zombies …and zombie cows… and Milrow is willingly slicing and dicing them up, packaging the meat, putting them on trucks, and inciting the zombie apocalypse. And of course, as Rabi and his friends investigate, and just try to stay alive, it’s Milrow and their goons that try to shut them up and conceal their business practices.

So, to summarize, this is a middle reader book about zombies and baseball. But it’s also a middle reader book about immigration, racism, corporate greed, organic vs. processed foods, and finding one’s voice. There’s something here for all kids to enjoy, really. The only requirement is that they must have Brrrrraaaaaaaaaaiiiinnsssssssssssss!

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