Author: Robert Paul Weston. Release date: 2008. Publisher: Penguin Group. ISBN: 9781595142955.
Review: Told entirely in rhyming couplets, Zorgamazoo is a creative and entertaining story for readers of all ages. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Weston’s rhymes is that they never grow stale or seem forced. He does have to employ some made-up words (a nod to Dr. Seuss), but, in general, he manages to rhyme ordinary phrases that ‘tweens will be able to understand. The plot of the novel is also very clever, with nods to influential authors like Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket, but in an original package. Younger readers might be frightened by Mrs. Krabone and Doctor LeFang, who want to lobotomize Katrina. Some of the illustrations in the book, such as those of the Octomabots, a machine that is a cross between a bee and an octopus, and of Doctor LeFang’s Cranial Puncturing Mincer of Mind, might be frightening as well. Other aspects of the plot, however, like Winnie the Windingo who constantly cries, and an ogre who is extremely attached to his glass eye, will lighten the mood. Overall, Zorgamazoo is a fun novel for readers who are interested in something a little bit different. It would also make a great read-aloud for a classroom or group of children or ‘tweens.
Reading level: Grades 4-7
Similar titles: James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket, any title by Dr. Seuss.
Personal thoughts: I had heard a great deal about this award-winning novel, and wasn’t disappointed in how clever and unique it is amongst recent literature for ‘tweens. Weston’s rhymes were simply amazing. While reading the book I couldn’t help but be constantly reminded of the work that must have gone into composing an entire novel, completely in rhyme. For me, the storyline played second fiddle to Weston’s literary craftsmanship. I did enjoy the novel quite a bit, and would definitely recommend it to ‘tweens as well as teachers seeking a fun read-aloud.
Themes: Bravery, adventure, the importance of imagination.
Awards/Reviews: Positive reviews from School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and The Horn Book Magazine. Recipient of 2009 E.B. White Honor Book award, Silver Book Award, nominee for California Young Reader Medal.
Series Information: None
Katrina Katrell – A young girl who lives with a distant relative, the cruel Mrs. Krabone. Likes to daydream about adventures and fantastical creatures. Meets Morty, a Zorgle, and goes on an adventure with him to learn about the fate of the Zorgles of Zorgamazoo.
Mortimer “Morty” Yorgle – A Zorgle, a hairy creature that lives underground. Timid and unsure of himself, despite the fact that his father was a renowned adventurer in the Zorgle community. Meets Katrina and decides to be brave and determine the fate of the Zorgles of Zorgamazoo.
Mrs. Krabone – Katrina’s distant relative and guardian. Cannot stand Katrina’s constant daydreaming and finally decides to have her lobotomized.
Winifred “Winnie” Windingo Thistle McPaw – A large beast who is constantly crying over the loss of her family from Zorgamazoo. A big fan of the sport, Zorgally Ball.
Bortlebee Yorgle – Morty’s father, a famous Zorgle adventurer.
Annotation: Katrina Katrell happens upon Morty the Zorgle, and together they decide to uncover the fate of the missing Zorgles of Zorgamazoo.