Review: Never Insult a Killer Zucchini by Elana Azose & Brandon Amancio, and David Clark

A brilliant first dip into science fiction (and fact!).

Publication date: 9th February 2016
Publisher: Charlesbridge

Never Insult a Killer Zucchini is a highly enjoyable read, with complex double spreads that invite poring over every detail. It provides a balance between the fantastic and the educational picture book by depicting ‘mad science’ with a firm base in reality. All this, whilst being a terrific reader experience.

The book follows a loose plot line, where a Killer Zucchini is entered into a school science fair. The science teacher is then followed around the fair by said zucchini, which oscillates between love and a desire for revenge – apparently Mr Farnsworth enjoys eating zucchinis more than being their friend!

The true charm of the book lies in the witty one-liners between characters and the fantastic illustrations of the science fair entries. Following abecedarian sequence (apologies, I love that word) it takes the reader through the science fair entries, all of which correspond to real experiments or scientific concepts, which are explained at the  end in more detail. The dialogue is clear and entertaining, presented in the wonderful magical realism of picture books, where the most dangerous things are approached with ironic calm.

The illustrations are on-point and humorous, with excellent attention to detail and  brilliant interplay with the text. Clark has obviously worked closely with the writers in order to create the chaotic scenes and includes a few entertaining references which will appeal to the adult reader as well as the child. The entire book is bursting with the vitality of its engaging illustrations.

I would recommend this picture book to as many people as possible. I cannot imagine a child which will not enjoy it, especially if they are interested in science. It will also appeal easily to children on the higher end of the age bracket for picture books. For adults, I think it is a wonderfully light and amusing read, which also serves an educational purpose – I, for one, never knew about the Eraser Beam! Definitely one to look out for.

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