Little Vampire's Diary.
San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1995. Distributed in Canada by Raincoast. 18pp, board book, $15.95.
Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 11.
Review by A. Edwardsson.
* / 4
This is the secret diary of the Little Vampire HANDS
In it I am going to write all about my cool adventures with Fang (my
special vampire cat)
September 36th [lunch time]
Just had my Vampire Beans in blood I am having such a wonderful day --
Vampires have so much fun! We have received an invitation for Jack's
costume party. What shall we go as?
Author Sonia Holleyman had a good idea for a novelty book. Packaged to
resemble a real diary, Little Vampire's Diary "locks" with
a velcro tab hidden under a keyhole illustration. Some sentences or words
are in secret code, the printed entries are scattered and realistically
hand-written, and many have accompanying doodles.
There are several extras, such as a pair of "earrings" (bright
poster-board snakes that hook over your lobes), a bat mobile, a board
game similar to snakes and ladders, and vampire-vision glasses. The
latter are incorporated into a monster-like mask with a space to insert
your nose, and fake fangs at the bottom. Wearing them should enable the
reader to see hidden messages, but I couldn't find any. On one page
readers are invited to reach in to a bag to feel caterpillar guts.
However, instead of something believably slimy, you touch sandpaper.
Unfortunately, as with many novelty books, this one lacks a
plausible engaging plot. The sixteen entries fail to properly introduce
us to the main characters. The entry on the first page has a picture of
Plaxie Wishbone (a.k.a. the Little Vampire) and her cat Fang, with arrows
and labels identifying Plaxie's vampire hair, spooky eyes and cloak.
Underneath is the caption, "This is a photograph of the new me." But we
have no idea what the old me, looked like.
The focus of most pages is Plaxie's infatuation with Jack, the new
boy in her class. We're not told why he's so great, or if he's a vampire
also. Her rival for Jack's affections is the teacher's pet, whom Plaxie
nicknames Tinsel Trudy.
Attempts to gross us out alternate with diary entries covering
the events leading up to Jack's Halloween party. There are several arrows
identifying illustrations of bug blood, ant brains, crusty scabs, maggot
juice, and so on. Many of the dates in the diary are imaginary -- like
Sept. 36th. The post-party entry reads:
October 31 3/4 (late in bed)
- 1] Mega News -- I have been to the best party EVER!
- 2] Mega Brilliant news! Tinsel Trudy was sick. She drank too much
party punch and she had to go home early.
- 3] Mega Stupendous News -- I came first in the costume contest!
- 4] MEGA-EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL BRAIN ZAPPING NEWS -- WITH SPARKLY
- Jack kissed me
Beside this, one "photo" shows Trudy throwing up, and another, Jack's
chaste kiss. Neither of these characters seem to be in Halloween
It's hard to guess who the target market is for this book. The love
story angle would suggest an older group, the earrings, glasses, and
codes would suggest a younger audience. Also, the frequency of the
cryptic messages was annoying. The reader has to flip back to the decoder
page at the beginning to translate them. Most weren't worth the effort.
The copyright info on the back jacket warns that this book is not
suitable for children under three years -- contains small parts.
Actually, this toy/movable book isn't suitable for most school or library
collections, although it may capture the attention of some reluctant
readers. The zany colour illustrations, in the style of Babette Cole
(The Trouble with Mom), are the most appealing part of the
A.Edwardsson works at a branch of the Winnipeg Public Library, where
she is in charge on the Children's dept. She has a Bachelor of Education
degree, Child Care Worker III certification, and is a member of the
Manitoba branch of the Canadian Authors Association.
To comment on this title or this review, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice
is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
The Manitoba Library Association
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