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Zombierella Fairy Tales Gone Bad

Joseph Coelho, illus. Freya Hartas
Walker Books
Age 7-9

This illustrated verse novel is the perfect story for young readers seeking gruesome tales. The grey scale illustrations have just the right balance of gore and humour.

A librarian discovers a dusty corner of the library with a selection of fairy tales which have gone ‘bad.’ When Cinderella slips and dies the shadow of death breathes life into her body.  For three nights only she becomes Zombierella and is able to attend the prince’s balls travelling in a mushroom coach pulled by her skeletal steed Lumpkin, she seeks revenge on her fake sisters and mesmferises the vampire prince with her beauty.  This is the first in a series of ‘fairy tales gone bad’ for those hungry for more.

Watch a trailer and listen to a performance of part of the book 

Talk about the story

  • This is a very surprising version of Cinderella! Share what you each found the most surprising bits, the scariest bits, the funniest bits and the best bits.

  • Did any lines stick in your head? Talk about your favourites.

  • Your child might be interested in thinking about similarities and differences with the more familiar version of Cinderella.

Things to make and do

Perform the story
Choose sections to read together for example the poems told by the Shadow of Death or the Librarian. You could decide which of you should read each line and perhaps read some lines together.

Make a miniature bookshelf of fairytales gone bad Miniature Bookcase With Books : 10 Steps (with Pictures) – Instructables

Make stick puppets for a scene from the story
Use the illustrations in the book to help you.  See here for help with making stick puppets

Write a proclamation from the Prince
Write an announcement from the Prince to say he is searching for the owner of the foot he finds on his steps. If you have black paper your child could try writing in red like the prince in the story does with a red crayon or felt pen.

Write a poem for Lumpkin, Zombierella’s horse

Make a zombie and vampire feast
Your food could include tomatoes stuffed with olives or blueberries for scary eyes, madeleines Madeleines recipes – BBC Food with twiglet or chocolate stick legs for cockroaches and potatoes peeled and carved with spooky faces, see here for more ideas How to make a Halloween feast – BBC Good Food

See our print-off activity book with some of these ideas and other activities

Find out more

Read more stories or poems by Joseph Coelho The Poetry of Joseph Coelho | Joseph Coelho

The Girl Who Became a Tree verse novel for older children 

Overheard in a Tower Block

Werewolf Club Rules

How to Write Poems

Picture Books

Luna Loves Library Day lovemybooks | FREE reading resources for parents

If all the World Were…..

Find out more about illustrator Freya Hartas Freya Hartas Illustration | Freya Hartas is a children’s book illustrator

Find out about vampires 8 spooky things you might know about vampires | Explore | Awesome Activities & Fun Facts | CBC Kids

See Usborne Fairy Tales for a beautiful pop-up version of the more familiar European Tale Usborne: Pop-up fairy tales Cinderella – YouTube

Find out about international versions of Cinderella here Cinderella Tales: 10 International Versions of the Beloved Tale (

See our activity page for Cinderella of the Nile