I leafed through Walking with the Dead, by L.M. Falcone, (2005, 196 pages) after I picked it up from the library, and noted more than the usual amount of dialogue and exclamation points. This is gonna be fun, I thought. And it was. This book is not to be confused with anything to do with the hit TV show The Walking Dead. No brains get eaten.
Summary from Goodreads:
Alex’s father brings home a perfectly preserved ancient Greek corpse as an exhibit for Oddities, the weird museum in their basement. After Alex peeks in the coffin, he starts having crazy dreams, gets struck by lightning and falls through a door into the night sky. Then things take a turn for the seriously weird when, after more than 2000 years, the corpse wakes up! This lively cadaver needs help, so big-hearted Alex and his sidekick, Freddie, find themselves on a mission to the world of the dead. They dodge monsters, three-headed dogs, gorgons with snakes for hair — and much worse — all in an attempt to help a lost soul in serious trouble. How in Hades will the boys ever get home again?
The action zips right along in a way that I think would hold the interest of reluctant reader boys. In fact, things happened so quickly, the story reminded me a little of those my eight-year-old son makes up. It is funny and light but also has a message about personal responsibility. Alex goes out of his way to help a Soul whom he feels he has wronged.
Walking with the Dead is full of references to Greek mythology, and so would probably be especially enjoyable for people with a background in this subject. It does make me wish I knew more about Greek mythology, but probably not enough to pick up a serious book on the topic. However, the creatures and characters Alex and his friend encounter in the underworld are very colorful and could make a more motivated reader seek out a non-fiction book on the topic.
This would make a great Halloween pick! Check out the spooky and fun author website. This book has won several awards.
You can find many more middle grade book reviews by following the links at the blog of talented writer Shannon Messenger here.