Todd Coates leaves his home in Queens, New York to visit his relatives on their farm in Moose Hollow, Wisconsin for the next year. He brings with him his harmonica and a red lighter that his Grandpa Dave gave him before he died. Todd's never used it, but keeps it for sentimental value. He stays with his Aunt Clara, Uncle Jake and cousins Mila and Skipper. When he arrives, he notices strange things happening in the cornfields of the farm, but everyone else seems to act secretive. One night, Todd sees zombie children walking the cornfields, but when he tells the others, nobody believes him. In fact, they seem to be even more secretive. Todd soon learns from Mila and her friend Shaneka that years ago, a bus arrived at the farm. Kids left the bus and entered the cornfields, only they never came back alive.
Todd at first laughs at the story, thinking Mila and Shaneka are trying to scare him, but when he arrives for his first day at school, he sees a totaled school bus carrying zombie children, all going to "Room 5-Z". Todd eventually enters the room to see that it's filled with zombie kids, including Mila and Shaneka. They reveal that the zombie kids are kept in the classroom and are fed canned meat to keep them from feasting on humans. Mila and Shaneka also reveal that they're zombies and try to take Todd to the cornfields. Todd escapes, but gets caught by Skipper. With the zombies advancing, Todd tries to use Grandpa Dave's lighter to burn some of the field to ward them off, but the lighter doesn't work. Defeated, Todd finally agrees to be a zombie like the others, but only if he can play harmonica for Mila and Shaneka's band "Canned Meat."
Todd Coates is an overall easy going kid who likes to talk about his experiences living in New York. Despite being skeptical at times, he is seemingly the only one who is trying to get any answer as to what is going on with the zombies in the cornfields.
- Todd Coates was not the original protagonist of this book, nor was he originally mentioned. In the original synopsis, it was a girl named Scarlett Martenson and her friends, Ross, Owen and Annie.
- In the final book, the name Owen is retained.