By Joe Schreiber, illustrated by Matt Smith
New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2013, 288 Pages, Ages 10-14
Lenny is a genius. And he has a crush on Zooey. Desperate to know how she feels about him and willing to try and change her mind from the inside, he discovers a method to shrink himself so that he can enter her digestive tract (via a capsule she unknowingly swallows). His plan: get to her brain, see what she thinks about, and, if necessary, make her love him. All this happens on the day that Zooey’s new play, a Christmas themed zombie tale, is set to premier.
Told in first person from three perspectives (Lenny, Zooey, and Lenny’s best friend and co-conspirator, Harlan), the book charts the discovery of the shrinking process, Lenny’s experiences in Zooey’s body, and Zooey’s reaction to the foreign body as she frantically prepares for the play premier. The author does a good job of making the events of the day laugh-out-loud funny.
The illustrations for the book are much what one would expect for a chapter book aimed at grades 4-8. The kid characters appear to be white middle-class children, rendered in caricature. Bullies are appropriately stocky and big headed (also white middle-class children). Images of viruses, components of Zooey immune system, bacteria and hormones with faces and personalities help the reader accept the human-like interactions that Lenny has with them.
This book is recommended for readers interested in the human body and how it deals with disease. Oh, and for readers who enjoy off beat adventure stories. It was disappointing how little the Christmas horror play figured into the story, since it had great potential for hilarity.
Review by Jennifer Harvey, Head Librarian, Curriculum Resource Center, Jerome Library, BGSU