Zombierella by Joseph Coelho

cover image

Illus. by Freya Hartas. Fairy tales gone bad. Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781406389661.
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. The perennial fun of twisted fairy tales takes on a new lease of life as Cinderella becomes a zombie after falling down the stairs, slipping on dog poo deliberately left by her fake sisters. Readers will laugh out loud as they recognise bits of the well known Cinderella, turned around for a modern audience with zombies, coffins, skeleton horses, and a vampire prince. A ball is called every three days by the prince, newly arrived in town with his retinue. But Cinderella is left home to clean. Falling on the stairs, she dies, to be revived as a zombie by Death, and given the opportunity to attend the ball. The prince, of course, falls for her, but she slips away. On the third night, her fake sisters become aware of who the beautiful girl is and pour glue on the stairs, stopping her progress. Not to be outdone, Cinderella breaks off her foot to run away, leaving the prince with a foot and ankle to match. The fake sisters do more than cut their toes off to marry the prince, and in the end, love rules and the story concludes most happily.
What a wonderful retelling, I laughed out loud and I am sure the readership will too, especially with the array of detailed very funny illustrations to guide them. A whole array of vampire and zombie paraphernalia dot the pages, intriguing the readers, and the grisly stuff, pulling out Cinderella's guts, or pulling off her foot, for example, is simply grist for the funny bone, goading people to laugh with gusto.
And I was pleased to read the epilogue by the librarian who unearthed these dark, mad tales, that there is more to come.
Walker Books' website gives more information about poet Coelho, and this is the first of a three part series called Fairy tales gone bad. And I loved the wrap around cover.
Themes: Vampires, Zombies, Cinderella, Twisted fairy tales, Humour, Verse.
Fran Knight