I’m drawn to quirky picture books like a zombie to brains. When I shambled by Peanut Butter & Brains at a local bookstore, I had to pick it up. One-toothed zombie Reginald reaching for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the cover caught my eye instantly. After reading the first few spreads, I had to buy it. I love many things about this book written by Joe McGee and illustrated by Charles Santoso. Prepare yourself for some serious gushing.
Synopsis: Reginald isn’t like the other zombies in Quirkville. While the zombie horde obsesses over brains, Reginald just wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He tells the others they should try PB&J, but they hunger for brains only. Reginald searches the town for an ooey-gooey sandwich. When he finally finds one on a crowded street, the zombies swarm the humans. Will he save the humans from the hungry horde? Read it to find out.
I love the pairing of zombies and PB&J—it’s unexpected yet simple. The combination hooked me right away. And the simplicity of this PB is adorable. All Reginald wants is a PB&J, nothing more. McGee captures Reginald’s seemingly uncomplicated request with simple sentences and hardly any adjectives. Not only does word choice move the story along at a nice pace, but it also gave Santoso room to illustrate freely.
The illustrations are a crack up! From the first spread of the story, blue mangled-toothed zombies blurt out what they want: brains. But instead of writing “brains” in their dialogue bubbles, Santoso drew brains. Genius! My favorite illustration accompanies the text, “‘NO BRAINSSSSS?’ the other zombies asked.” A zombie group stares at Reginald (and the reader) as if he’s crazy for wanting anything but brains. Visit the creative director’s website for art samples from the book. I guarantee you’ll smile.
Finally, I can’t get enough of the subtle message in this PB: it’s ok to be different and chase (shuffle if you’re a zombie) after what you want, even if it seems odd to others. Reginald goes after a PB&J as fast as his zombie feet will let him, and he won’t stop until he devours it. Stay true to yourself!
Take my word for it—this PB is awesome. It’s quirky, funny, and delivers a meaningful message. And it’ll leave you hungry for a PB&J. Excuse me while I shuffle toward the pantry… “Sweet jelly…sticky peanut butter…”