Ernestine, Catastrophe Queen

304p. Little, Brown/Jimmy Patterson. Aug. 2018. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9780316471589.
Gr 4–6—Ernestine is determined to bring on the zombie apocalypse. She visits a neighboring graveyard with her younger stepbrother and partner in crime, Charleston, in an attempt to raise the dead. After a possible zombie sighting, Ernestine rushes back to her home where she lives with her artist/caretaker parents in the MacGillicuddie House for Retired Artists, Both Performing and Otherwise where a wild party is underway. The converted apartment house is filled with eccentric and colorful residents, presided over by the glamorous, kooky, art-loving, and incredibly wealthy Mrs. MacGillicuddie. The party reaches a raucous climax when a giant chandelier crashes down from the ceiling, practically squashing Mrs. M. More incidents prove that foul play is certainly involved. Are there really zombies afoot, and what is it about them that has the precocious, capable, and imaginative Ernestine so intrigued? All of these answers are eventually revealed, although one dangling loose end will draw readers into a potential sequel. Debut author Wyatt offers a plot-driven, humorous mystery that will keep kids turning pages. The diverse and intriguing cast of characters allows for multiple suspects, red herrings, and a surprise twist ending. Themes include the importance of community and family, the value of the older generation, the narcissistic nature of social media, and overcoming hurt from the past.
VERDICT A traditional mystery filled with creepy zombie bits and laugh-out-loud funny moments make for a winning combination. A strong choice for most collections.

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