Review: Zombie Vacation

A Zombie Vacation by Lisa Rose, illustrated by Ángeles Ruiz

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Lila Spitz

Everyone needs a break from their daily routine now and then, especially when you are not yourself. That’s why you might go on a vacation. But sometimes it is hard to know where to go to rejuvenate yourself.

In A Zombie Vacation by Lisa Rose, the undead Israeli narrator takes readers on a tour throughout Israel to find the perfect place to relax. The zombie visits tourist destinations in Israel such as the Sea of Galilee, the Israel Museum and Luna Park in Tel Aviv. But they are all too beautiful or joyful for the Zombie to relax. Then, the undead traveler sees an advertisement for the Dead Sea in a tourist magazine, and eureka, the perfect vacation destination has been found. Upon arriving at the Dead Sea, the zombie delights in the decay of his temporary dwelling when he describes, “The hotel was crumbling into a sinkhole. Roaches roamed the lobby. My bed was bursting with bedbugs, and there was a giant deathstalker scorpion in my shower”. Not only are the manmade structures decaying, the uninhabitable Dead Sea is shrinking and the region is home to many endangered species. Finally, the zombie returns home able to frighten and scare once more. When the narrator reaches the “ah-ha” moment, it is appropriately punctuated by bolded words and exclamation points.

This book highlights popular tourist destinations in the Jewish homeland including the Sea of Galilee, the Israel Museum, Luna Park in Tel-Aviv and especially the Dead Sea. For readers who have been to Israel, they might have stories to share about visiting these places, and for those who have not been, they might consider stopping at these authentic Jewish cultural sites.

Evidence of author Lisa Rose’s extensive and detailed research on the geographical features and the chemical composition of the Dead Sea is included the back matter of the picture book. There, she outlines ways educators can use the Dead Sea to teach a myriad of subjects. This includes scientific subjects such as buoyancy, evolution, and sinkholes.

Throughout the story, the narrator is accompanied by a playful undead dog which gives the book a playful and humorous element in an otherwise scary book. The canine addition to the story, the age-appropriate vocabulary and the pastel illustrations make this story a perfect fall read-aloud for its intended audience.

This book takes readers on a unique and entertaining tour of Israel and accurately provides information about its most popular destinations, however, I consider this book more of an Israeli travel book, rather than a book that portrays Jewish religious or cultural experiences. For that reason, I would not recommend this book to the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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Reviewer Lila Spitz is a recent MLIS graduate of Catholic University who currently works as a Library Aide at Alexandria Library in Virginia. Prior to her time in Alexandria, she volunteered in Arlington Public Library as a storytime participant, a shelver, and a member of the Friends of the Library for five years. She has been published in WETA’s Boundary Stones, a local history blog, and FACES, a Smithsonian world cultures children’s magazine.