Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi – Review by Irene Kistler

zombie baseball beatdownHave you ever taught, or parented, an always-moving, sports-loving, book-avoiding elementary child? Have I got a treat for you! Paolo Bacigalupi’s Zombie Baseball Beatdown was inspired by his wife’s 5th grade classroom and her boys who hated to read. In the spirit of If you read it, they will come, Paolo Bacigalupi wrote a gore-appropriate zombie title which is fun for every age, but truly suited to the intermediate and middle grade boy.


Bacigalupi has three friends, Rabi, Miguel and Joe, discover something amiss in their town when their baseball coach attempts to eat them. Coach Cocoran stumbles from the cornfields between the Milrow Meats plant and their town of Delbe, Iowa and, at first, looks injured. In their misguided attempts to check on their coach, he attacks with one thing on his zombie mind…Braaaaaaains!


But it’s also so much more than a zombie story. My favorite part was the compassionate approach to the issue of illegal immigration. Yes. You read that correctly. This is a zombie story with two fabulous back stories–one on immigration and the other on the food industry. I loved them both, and they are masterfully interwoven. Bacigalupi draws you into the complicated emotions behind the illegal immigration issue, and then connects that to the complex issue of food supply. It’s up to our heroic trio of boys to solve the mystery of the zombie apocalypse for their town, including the truth behind the SuperGrow growth supplement Milrow Meats is feeding its cows.


This is a zombie feast of comedy-horror which makes you think. And, most importantly, those reluctant boy readers will gobble it up. Gaggghhhhh!


Paolo has a great introductory video for this book. It’s a great hook to show when introducing the title to kids.


Paolo Bacigalupi is an award-winning science fiction novelist. He’s been honored with many awards, including the Hugo and Nebula awards. He’s written adult titles, YA and now middle grade. His YA title SHIP BREAKER was a Printz Award Winner, and THE DROWNED CITIES, also YA, was a 2012 VOYA Perfect Ten Book.


Irene Kistler is a middle school librarian in San Antonio, Texas. One of her greatest joys is reading her library’s collection and recommending great books to great kids. She was the Northeast ISD 2015 Secondary Teacher of the Year and the 2012 HEB Excellence in Education Teacher of the Year for the San Antonio Region. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her cooking a nice dinner for her husband and friends, or browsing the aisles of William Sonoma. She loves to write and hopes to one day publish a picture book or middle grade novel of her own. Tweet her @IreneKistler.