The binge on all-things zombie has been going on for about two years. Triggered by repeated encouragement to give AMC’s The Walking Dead a try, I finally checked out Netflix’s offerings. The opening sequence of the cautious Rick Grimes searching for gas before he and the audience discover a young girl converted into a zombie toting around her teddy bear. Cue up the string-heavy opening sequence with broken picture frames on the wall. Sold!
The fascination in the show shifted to the comic and then to the genre as a whole. When I found myself up-to-date on the show and the comic, I brought Max Brooks into my life. In The Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks presents zombies in a way I have not seen prior. Rather than being driven by fear-fueled desperation as illustrated in “Night of the Living Dead,” Brooks approaches the threat of zombies in an objective, rational way. Let us ignore the idea that Brooks’ use of zombies is an allegory for any type of social challenge or threat.
Spending hours engaged in various zombie media began to raise questions from the youngest members of the household. Whatcha reading, dad? A book. What’s it about? Zombies. What’s a zombie? Well, (this question was a bit harder to answer) zombies are guys that just kind of walk around and … um. Naturally, I wanted to leave out aspects of undead, fevers, viruses, flesh eating and the collapse of civilization, as we know it. So, what’s left?
Not wanting to discourage young inquisition, I went with “Zombies are guys who think your toes are sandwiches” and I proceeded to do some toe-biting. The situation ended with laughs which is always counted as a victory for a dad.
The process of explaining zombies to the kids continued over the months as I thought of how Brooks would do it. Provide the information in a clear, factual way and allow the audience to perceive it how they will. Zombies don’t eat regular food is much different than saying zombies instinctively crave the flesh of humans. Just as, zombies can hold their breath for a long time is different than saying zombies don’t need to breath because their pulmonary, cardiovascular and central nervous systems are inoperative.
Write what you like for the audience you know. “My First Book of Zombies” is full of practical zombie information disguised as a children’s picture book or is it a humorous children’s picture book disguised as a zombie book? Either way, it’s pretty fun.