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“She only had one idea, and she hated it. She wasn’t the kind of person who stole and lied, but the only way she could see that they might get rid of the zombie was if they stole the ball,” Becky. –Zombie Dog
Rotten Apple #2
by Clare Hutton
Becky’s family has moved right next door to the creepy, abandoned McNally house. Rumors fly around school about the ghosts and monsters that live there, and Becky isn’t sure what to believe. Even her mischievous dog, Bear, stays away from that house. When Becky starts hearing mysterious howls coming from next door, paired with an awful smell, she starts to wonder if the rumors might be true. Snarls and glowing eyes confirm it—something is over there, and it’s not happy. Worse, Becky’s parents are blaming Bear for all the unexplained damage around their property. Can Becky stop this creature before it’s too late?
While the zombie dog plays a prominent role in Becky’s story, Zombie Dog is also a story about friendship. Two significant events happen to Becky—moving to a new neighborhood and starting junior high. Because of this, Becky spends less time with her best friend, Charlotte. Readers will relate to Becky and Charlotte’s changing relationship as they learn how to keep their friendship alive while also adding new friends to their life. Both girls learn that they can be friends even if they have different interests and don’t spend all their free time together.
Zombie Dog will appeal to middle-grade readers who want a spooky story with suspense, without being overly scary. Becky discovers the zombie dog was a neighbor’s pet that was brought back to life. However, the dog is confused and in pain. In the end, Becky is able to send the dog back to its grave, where it will be at peace. The neighbor eventually realizes that bringing the dog back to life wasn’t the right choice. Anyone who has ever dealt with a loss will empathize with the neighbor and understand her motives.
Zombie Dog is a perfect read for a dark and stormy night. With plenty of suspense, a relatable protagonist, and a positive message, Zombie Dog will entertain readers. While the book is part of the Rotten Apple Series, each book has different characters and many are written by different authors, so each book can be read separately. If you enjoy Zombie Dog but haven’t read Mean Ghouls, you will definitely want to grab a copy. The easy-to-read Rotten Apple Series introduces readers to the horror genre but won’t leave readers with nightmares.
- A zombie dog chases Becky. “Despite its limp, the strange little dog was moving fast. . . Its snarl was steady, without it seeming to have to pause for breath. The smell kept getting worse and worse, too. . . Becky was panting and shaking, tears coming down her face, and the little dog was still snarling, its lips drawn back from its teeth, looking ready to bite.”
- When the dog tried to bite Becky, she put out a stick. “The Chihuahua’s teeth fastened onto the stick and it held on as she tried to jerk it away. . .the Chihuahua’s eerie green eyes were fixed steadily on her with what seemed like cold anger. Pulling hard, Becky managed to yank the stick from the Chihuahua’s mouth. A slow trickle of what seemed to be black blood ran from the creature’s lip as it crouched down, ready to leap at her.” Becky gets away. The scene is described over four pages.
- Becky goes to the zombie dog’s house in order to give her a ball that has been filled with a potion to put the dog to sleep. When the dog appears, “its teeth were bared in a growl, and its eyes were glowing savagely at her. . . Her eyes met the zombie’s, and she saw how angry and confused it was, saw its eyes shift to her neck and imagined it leaping at her throat.” The zombie dog takes the ball and leaves.
Drugs and Alcohol
- While researching zombies, Becky finds out that “voodoo practitioners would first poison their victims with a paralyzing nerve poison that came from blowfish, which they would secretly put in their targets’ shoes to be absorbed by the sweat glands in their feet.”
- Becky reads about how “a paste made out of poppy seeds and cloves can help put a zombie to rest.”
- In order to put the zombie dog to sleep, Becky and her friend make an herbal paste that can “put the undead to rest.” The herbal paste has angel’s trumpet flower, poppy seeds, and cloves. The potion is “poisonous.”
- Becky calls her brother a dummy.
- While researching zombies, Becky learns “the kind of zombie that wants something before it goes away, it can’t be put to rest until it gets what it’s looking for. Like, if it lost something important to it.”
- Becky sees a zombie dog for the first time. The dog’s “green eyes shining unnaturally in the glow from the streetlights. She realized that it was dragging its left hind leg behind it, moving painfully. . . Becky saw that its fur was matted and full of dirt. One ear hung off at a funny angle, seeming to be attached only by a long strip of ragged flesh.”
- Becky’s dog brings her a ball. Later, Becky realizes that the ball belonged to the zombie dog and is the reason the dog is bothering her. Becky finds out that “certain objects important to the walking dead in life can on occasion be buried with them and bring them peace; if these are removed from the dead’s final resting place, they will walk again.”
- Becky finds out that the zombie dog was brought back to life by its owner. Her owner was, “horrified at what [the dog] became, and we manage to put her back to rest.”