Texas Bluebonnet Award 2014-2015

Resources for the TBA Nominees

Dead City


Dead City
by James Ponti

Scroll down to find Related Activities & Resources, Book Talk Teasers, Read Alikes, and Book Reviews.

Readers Theater Script – Dead City (PDF)


About the author and the book:
Author’s website:

Publisher’s website – Simon & Schuster:


Author’s facebook page for Dead City:

Links to interviews with James Ponti:



Story background:

NYC Subway–History, Fifty Years of Rapid Transit (1918) by James Blaine Walker about the politics and development of the New York subway; pictures of abandoned stations and subway cars (past and present), historical maps, documents and surveys and more.

Roosevelt Island Historical Society – Preservation of the history of Roosevelt Island which at one time was home to a penitentiary, a workhouse and a lunatic asylum.

Websites related to locations and people in Dead City (sent to TBA courtesy of the author, James Ponti):
Extensive curriculum unit specific to Texas with TEKS created by author (courtesy of publisher) 

History, information, and pictures of the New York Marble Cemetery:

Facts and figures about the Roosevelt Island Tramway:

Interactive subway map of New York City:

J. Hood Wright Park history and photos:

Photos and history of the amazing City Hall Ghost Station:

The Blackwell House on Roosevelt Island:

Morningside Park history and photos:

N.Y.C. Sandhogs site:

National Geographic interactive site to explore underground New York:

NPR story exploring the abandoned caves and tunnels beneath New York: http://www.npr.org/2013/09/14/222525583/new-york-underground-exploring-city-caves-and-catacombs

New York geology:


Zombie Freeze Tag–The tagger is the Zombie. When he touches someone, they have to act like a Zombie until the last person still stands.

May is Zombie Awareness Month–learn the Thriller Dance and have someone tape it.

Throw a Zombie Party. (Zombie crafts, Zombie costume contest, etc.)

Zombie Survival Kit Game–Give each kid a paper with a list of letters A – Z. They must come up with items they believe should be in a zombie survival kit for each letter. They must be able to justify that item if other players challenge it. (Ex. A-Arrows, B-Blanket, C-Compass, etc.) After they have come up with their list, have the kids go through each item on their list. If another person or team has that item on their list, they don’t get a point. If challenged, the person must defend their answer and then the others vote on the validity of the answer.

Zombie Dice–These dice can be ordered online from multiple sites. An example of how it is played can be found at:

Dead City Sudoku–Natalie, Alex, Grayson and Molly love to hang out together and fight zombies! Prime-O tries to get Molly’s friends to replace her. Can you keep them together by making sure that each person only appears once in every column, row and box?

Dead City Maze–Help Molly avoid her former friends, the “Seven Swans,” and avoid waking the zombies to help her join up with her Omega Team.


The inside front flap

 The prologue

 Read beginning on page 49 with “If my eyes had been open…” thru p. 55. Stop after saying “Very bad! Do you understand?”


Other books by James Ponti (Author Appeal):

Blue moon. While helping the Omega team track down down the identity of the original thirteen zombies in New York City, Molly tries to keep her mother’s secret and uncovers a sinister plan of the undead. (NoveList)

History mystery. Having just moved to Boston, Shelby immediately finds herself in the middle of a mystery in which she must track down a priceless magnifying glass and the person who stole it. (NoveList)

The Prince of Persia, the Sands of Time: the movie storybook. As a child, orphan Dastan is adopted by the king of Persia and raised as a prince, but years later when he is framed for a terrible crime, he must make use of a magical dagger and find the Sands of Time to prove his innocence. (NoveList)

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: junior novel. Modern-day New York City college student David Stutler is recruited by sorcerer Balthazar Blake to help him battle his nemesis, the evil sorcerer Maxim Horvath, who wants to free the greatest evil magician of all, Morgana.

Other zombie books (Subject Appeal):

Kloepfer, John. The zombie chasers. Zack Clarke thinks he’s unlucky when his older sister and her friends ambush him, duct-tape him to a chair, and make him the subject of a YouTube video called Hostage Makeover–but then zombies attack! Zack’s big sister (along with most everyone else in Phoenix, Arizona) is mysteriously transformed into a shuffling, moaning, brain-craving menace, and it’s up to Zack, his geeky buddy Rice, and super-popular Madison to save the city. –Description by Ellen Foreman. (NoveList)

Bacigalupi, Paolo. Zombie baseball beatdown. While practicing for their next baseball game, thirteen-year-old friends Rabi, Miguel, and Joe discover that the nefarious activities of the Delbe, Iowa, meatpacking plant have caused cows to turn into zombies. (NoveList)

Jones, Eddie. Dead low tide. On vacation with his parents in Savannah, Georgia, Nick Caden is eager to investigate the mystery surrounding Heidi May Laveau, a girl who supposedly died years ago but whose body just washed up on the shore. (NoveList)

Hale, Bruce. The big nap: from the tattered casebook of Chet Gecko, Private Eye. Someone is turning the students at Emerson Hickey Elementary into zombies, and it’s up to fourth-grade private eye Chet Gecko to find out who. (NoveList)

O’Hara, Mo. My big fat zombie goldfish. Tom’s goldfish is horrifically transformed after his evil scientist big brother’s experiment goes wrong, an accident that imbues the goldfish with hypnotic powers and a thirst for revenge. (NoveList)

Roy, Ron. Zombie zone. Reports of zombies and grave-robbers alarm the people of a Louisiana swampland village, but Ruth Rose, Josh, and Dink begin to suspect that the supernatural may not be the cause of the eerie occurrences. (NoveList)

San Souci, Robert. The faithful friend. A retelling of the traditional tale from the French West Indies in which two friends, Clement and Hippolyte, encounter love, zombies, and danger on the island of Martinique. (NoveList)

Non-fiction books on Jeet Kune Do (Subject Appeal):

Cheng, David. Jeet Kune Do basics. Let the books in the Tuttle Martial Arts Basics series take you through your first six months of training–and beyond! Here, beginning students get everything they need to gain a complete understanding of the martial arts from the very beginning, helping them progress faster. (Ingram)

Other fast-paced novels (Pace Appeal):

Avi. The Seer of shadows. In New York City in 1872, fourteen-year-old Horace, a photographer’s apprentice, becomes entangled in a plot to create fraudulent spirit photographs, but when Horace accidentally frees the real ghost of a dead girl bent on revenge, his life takes a frightening turn. (NoveList)

Riordan, Rick. The lightning thief. After learning that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea, Percy Jackson is transferred from boarding school to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods, and becomes involved in a quest to prevent a war between the gods. (NoveList)

Other plot-driven novels (Storyline Appeal):

Avi. Iron thunder. After his father is killed during the Civil War, thirteen-year-old Tom takes on a job at the ironworks to support his family, and finds himself a target of ruthless spies when he begins assisting with the ironclad ship the “Monitor”. (NoveList)

Roberts, Willo Davis. The kidnappers. Willie was about to beat Joey to a pulp. That’s why Joey was hiding when he saw Willie kidnapped. Unfortunately, Joey’s penchant for stretching the truth backfires and no one believes him. No one but the kidnapper that is. (NoveList)


Dead City. By James Ponti. 2012. 288p. Aladdin, $16.99 (9781442441293). Gr. 5–8. (Booklist Online, January 23, 2014).

How did seventh-grader Molly Bigelow become a “superhero zombie terminator”? Blame her deceased mother, who was part of an underground force known as Omega and whose gifts have been passed on to Molly. The Omega mission: “to police and protect the undead.” Decades ago, a Manhattan subway drilling accident created the Unlucky 13s, the original zombies, and they have proliferated ever since, though most aren’t bad sorts—except for the bloodthirsty Level 3s. While senior Omega team members Natalie, Alex, and Grayson teach Molly the ins and outs of undead interaction, a mystery hatches: why is one of the Unlucky 13s after them, and why does he want Molly’s mother’s old copy of Little Women? This is no splatter fest; rather, the mostly bloodless fight scenes take a backseat to a good old-fashioned mystery with loads of clever puzzle breaking (Omegas send secret messages via the letters and numbers of the periodic table). Put this right alongside other wry early teen updates of classic monsters, such as Jason Henderson’s Alex Van Helsing series (vampires), Steve Feasey’s Wereling series (werewolves), and Maureen Johnson’s Shades of London series (ghosts).—Daniel Kraus

School Library Journal:
Ponti, James. Dead City.

Gr 5–8—Brainy and awkward middle-schooler Molly is recruited by friends Alex, Grayson, and Natalie to train to become a member of Omega, a secret agency sworn to police and protect the undead in Manhattan. She gets her first assignment when bloodless dead bodies are found lined up in a park to form the Greek letter Omega. It is up to Molly and her crew to figure out who has it in for the Omegas before it is too late. Keeping the city safe from zombies takes her and her friends all over New York. Ponti incorporates several landmarks into the story: Roosevelt Island, Blackwell House, subway ghost stations, and the New York Marble Cemetery. The most significant Manhattan feature the author uses is schist, the type of rock from which the island was formed. In his Manhattan, the schist emits a unique energy. Because the zombies need it to survive, they stay underground, in their thriving Dead City, or as close to ground level as possible. Readers who enjoy a plot-driven story will like this one. There is no budding romance and very little character development. Dead City is all about the thrill of the (relatively bloodless and gore-free) hunt.—Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Library, NC

Horn Book:
Ponti, James Dead City
277 pp. Simon/Aladdin (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing) 2012. ISBN 978-1-4424-4129-3
(3) 4-6 series. Seventh-grader Molly is shocked when a secret society at her science magnet school recruits her to “police and protect the undead” beneath Manhattan. She’s even more surprised to learn her recently deceased mother was a famous member. A spunky scientist heroine, an unusually complex take on zombies, and an engaging mystery with a cliffhanger conclusion will leave readers impatient for the next installment. (Spring 2013 Guide) Reprinted from The Horn Book Guide by permission of The Horn Book, Inc., www.hbook.com


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