MID­DLE GRADE

Foreword Reviews - - Contents - by var­i­ous re­view­ers

Jaco Ja­cobs, Kobus Gelden­huys (Trans­la­tor) Rock the Boat (MARCH) Soft­cover $12.95 (176pp) 978-1-78607-450-8

In Jaco Ja­cobs’s A Good Night for Shoot­ing Zom­bies, Martin’s life is shat­tered the day his fa­ther is killed in a car ac­ci­dent. Two years later, his nor­mally gre­gar­i­ous ex-ac­tress mother is house­bound, his sis­ter is al­ways out with her gang­ster boyfriend, and Martin him­self is rel­a­tively friend­less, with an al­most un­healthy ob­ses­sion with num­bers. When he goes next door to con­front the boy whose dog has just killed his prize chicken, he doesn’t re­al­ize that meet­ing Vusi will com­pletely change his life.

Vusi is bat­tling can­cer. His only goal in life is to make the best zom­bie movie the world has ever seen. Martin finds him­self be­ing sucked into Vusi’s dream, too. The boys de­velop a strong friend­ship that is a light in Martin’s oth­er­wise dark life. As the two go against all odds to make their movie dreams a re­al­ity, Martin re­al­izes that life is about much more than just num­bers.

A Good Night for Shoot­ing Zom­bies is set in South Africa and is an ex­cel­lent in­tro­duc­tion to trans­lated works for mid­dle grade read­ers. It fea­tures ac­ces­si­ble sit­u­a­tions, easy-to-like char­ac­ters, and plenty of ac­tion. Martin is the per­fect an­ti­hero with his strange man­ner­isms and crush­ing lone­li­ness, while Vusi makes the ideal un­der­dog. The boys’ re­la­tion­ship is heart­felt and be­liev­able and de­vel­ops smoothly and hu­mor­ously through­out their zom­bie project.

Though Martin and Vusi are on an out­landish and of­ten hi­lar­i­ous quest, Vusi’s ill­ness hangs over the book like a thick fog. While other char­ac­ters make brief ap­pear­ances, adding to the plot and at­mos­phere of the book, it’s re­ally all about Martin and Vusi’s friend­ship. Never too sen­ti­men­tal or de­press­ing, A Good Night for Shoot­ing Zom­bies strikes a per­fect bal­ance of hu­mor and heart­break and helps to de­fine what friend­ship re­ally means.

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