Take the typical high school setting, move your characters underworld into Wonderland, add a dash of magic and oh…introduce the zombie apocalypse to the land of tales, and you have the “Once Upon a Zombie” series.
Caitlin Fletcher has anxiously lived with more than her fair share of fear for years. From cemeteries to social situations, anxiety can creep on Caitlin at any time, causing her to breath uncontrollably and come close to fainting. This problem has only been exasperated since Caitlin’s mother disappeared years back and has since been declared dead. So perhaps she isn’t the best person to be pulled down into a grave to help the Princesses of all your classic fairy tales figure out why they and their people are being turned into zombies by the Red Queen – except the Caterpillar from Wonderland seems to think she is the only one able to save them. As Caitlin journeys towards the Red Queen she must decide when fear is healthy, and when it prevents you from living your life. For such a premise, Billy Phillips and Jenny Nissenson have done a fair job of bringing together all the differing themes and tropes together. For Grades 5 and up, it provides a fairly unique twist on the fairy tale for a generation growing up with the zombie- and apocalyptic- obsessed popular culture. One further note though – Once Upon a Zombie has spawned a franchise of dolls, a soon to be television show, and is promising to be a multiple book series. Great for those teachers looking for new series and franchises that deviate from Bratz and Barbies (with a decidedly better writing in the series) but something to be aware off.