________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 11 . . . . January 25, 2008


Leo’s Skiing Surprise. (First Novels 62).

Louise Leblanc. Illustrated by Jules Prud’homme. Translated by Sarah Cummins.
Halifax, NS: Formac, 2007.
64 pp., pbk. & hc., $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-88780-736-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-88780-738-1 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Vampires-Juvenile fiction.
Friendship-Juvenile fiction.
Skis and skiing-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Robert Groberman.

**½  /4


I have the coolest friend! His name is Julio Orasul and he’s a vampire. He lives with his parents in an underground apartment in the cemetery.

Julio and I keep in touch by leaving messages on my grandfather’s gravestone.

Unfortunately, we can’t get together very often. Julio can’t get out in the daytime, because the light would kill him. And we have to be careful. The Orasuls could be in danger if people in the village found out about them.

Leo and Julio are best friends. Their problem is that Leo is a human and Julio is a vampire who lives with his family under the ground in the local graveyard. The two can only play together at night because vampires cannot safely be exposed to sunlight. It is Julio the vampire’s Christmas wish to go skiing. Leo wants to make this happen with the help of Mr. Applebaum, their common human friend who also knows the vampire family’s secret. On the way to the ski hill in the middle of the night, the three are caught in a blizzard, their car drives into a snow bank, and Julio is injured. It is only through the combined first aid knowledge of Julio’s human friends, a surprise rescue by the school bully and the assistance of Julio’s vampire cousins in disguise that this short novel comes to a happy ending.

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     Louise Leblanc’s novel, translated into English by Sarah Cummins, is a far-fetched tale that contains characters with whom the reader will connect. Not everyone has a friend who is a vampire, but many readers will have a friend who is unusual and whom others don’t understand. They many not have a friend who needs a transfusion of rare vampire blood type 2, but they may have a medical condition that they don’t quite understand. With Jules Prud’homme’s illustrations in each chapter, this is a story about friendship and acceptance of differences. The author depicts very different families, each of which has concerns for its own and its children’s safety.


Robert Groberman is a grade two teacher at Kirkbride Elementary School, Surrey, BC.

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