Halloween is over, but we still have an awesome treat for you. Or maybe it’s a trick to get your kids reading more. Regardless, Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies! is both unique and inspiring on so many levels. This story about a zombie boy named, Mo, takes us inside the home of his whimsical family. However, Mo is not your typical flesh-eating zombie. He’s different, and his struggles to be accepted for who he is mirror the kind of struggles many Latinx populations experience. This spooktacular critique describes why the creators of Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies! are ranked #1 on our “2020 Top 10 Authors List.”
The Imagery and Fun Play
It was only by great fortune that I came across this fantastic book. I read a post on Twitter that mentioned something about a picture book with a family of Latinx zombies. Once I saw the cover, there was no question I had to dive right in. It had mass appeal written all over it, and it didn’t disappoint. The imagery, the fun play on words, the fact that it includes Spanglish, are all executed at the highest levels of creative storytelling. Best of all, the themes are so oozingly precious that the book is sure to ease your heart’s content.
Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies! was written and illustrated by husband and wife team, Megan and Jorge Lacera. What struck me first was their magnificent twist on zombie “culture.” It is nothing short of genius and pure entertainment. Within the first page of the story, we are introduced to the main character, Mo, who has a dark and dreadful secret: he loves to eat vegetables. But as the title of the book suggests, zombies are not supposed to eat vegetables.
We soon learn that his family, the Romeros, strictly forbid vegetables in their home. We are also told that some of the authentic staples of Zombie cuisine includes brain and bean tortillas, arm-panadas, and arroz con spleen. If you’re not incredibly curious to see what these dishes look like, I bet my cheerios your kids will be. There is so much to dissect in this book. I don’t know whether I’m more impressed by the playful imagery, smart plot line, or by how the book boldly presents Latinx characters. Perhaps I’m just a geek for Latinx content, but this feels like more than a Latinx book. Don’t be surprised to see non Latino families eating up this book like tacos.
The book has a simple story, yet it is so rich in themes. I believe this is what puts it over the top. The major themes of the book are just as relevant to parents and adults as they are for kids.
Eat my brains if I’m wrong, but many members of Latinx communities I’ve known in my life greatly under-appreciate vegetables. I can relate to Mo. I love veggies, but my family rarely serves whole cooked vegetables. We usually consume veggies in salsas, hidden in tamales, or buried among cuts of meats and rice. Whether you love vegetables or not, this is not simply a story about convincing anyone to eat more vegetables. The real themes unfold as we get to experience Mo’s family dynamics at the dinner table. Where else would we find the true nature of Zombie Latinos?
The Romeros believe vegetables are disgusting. Mo’s parents repeatedly urge him to give up his love for plant based foods, because zombies don’t eat veggies! In turn, this leads Mo to question his identity and feel like an outcast. This sounds like a common struggle in many households. Like Mo’s family, mine was often quick to criticize my differences. I too felt like an outcast at times, and I rarely had the heart to express how I felt. I feared disappointing my family or further criticism. So, what is Mo to do?
Luckily, Mo exceeded all my expectations and had the courage to break the cycle of hyper-parental criticism. First, he desperately tries to entice his parents to enjoy veggies. When all fails and his family is fed up with him, Mo speaks up. He tells his parents that he loves taking part in other zombie activities with them. He appreciates his family, and further asserts that he’s not so different. He simply has a unique appetite for veggies. What’s the big deal right? The truth is, Mo’s parents learned a lesson too. Ultimately, Mo’s parents did the correct and loving thing, they accepted Mo for who he is and supported his unique personality.
From the cover, I couldn’t imagine such depth in characters and story. The only thing left for me to say is how the illustrations keep me wanting more. The illustrations alone are worthy of mainstream recognition. Add some “chile con ojos” and you have the perfect recipe for a #1 hit book! Great work Megan and Jorge.
That concludes our special edition of the Latinx Kid-Lit. Corner. I hope you found this insightful. Give us your thoughts below. Send me an email or find me on Instagram- @tropicsalvi. I’m open to your suggestions for future books to feature on the Latinx Kid-Lit Corner.
About the Creators:
Husband and wife team, Jorge and Megan Lacera, and their seven-year old son Kai are a family of creatives. Megan, is an experienced writer and creative consultant. Jorge is an artist for major gaming studios. After reading various stories to their son, the family realized there are very few books that reflect a family like theirs–multicultural, bilingual, funny, and imperfect. They decided to change that by creating their own story. Visit the Laceras’ website for the latest news.