________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 10. . . . January, 2003

cover A Creepy Case of Vampires. (Barnes and the Brains).

Kenneth Oppel. Illustrated by Sam Sisco.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2002.
58 pp., pbk., $4.99.
ISBN 0-439-98971-X.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Gillian Martin Noonan.

** /4


Giles looked up in terror, and saw a man in black towering above him. He scrambled backwards so fast that he knocked Kevin and Tina down onto the grass. Then he noticed the priest's white collar.

"I'm certainly no vampire," said the priest with a faint smile. "I'm Father Peter. May I help you?"

"Oh," said Kevin, quickly stashing the wooden stake in his knapsack.

Giles slowly stood up and dusted off his jeans. Father Peter was certainly not the man they'd seen last night on the tower. For one thing, the priest wasn't nearly as tall, and he was heavier, with white hair and beard.

Tina stepped forward to take charge.

"Father Peter," she aid in her most businesslike voice. "Please excuse the oafish behaviors of my associates. My name's Tina Quark. This is Kevin Quark, no relation and Giles Barnes. You may have heard of our local genius business."

"Well, I can't say I have," said Father Peter.

Tina snapped her fingers at her brother. "Kevin, our business card."

"Oh, right," said Kevin, fumbling in his pocket. He dragged out a crumpled bit of cardboard, tried unsuccessfully to smooth it, and then offered it apologetically to Father Peter.

"Local geniuses," he read aloud. "Capable of just about everything."

A Creepy Case of Vampires is Kenneth Oppel's sixth novel in the series, "Barnes and the Brains." One again, Giles Barnes and his genius friends, Kevin and Tina Quark, have a case to solve. This time it involves the local church where Giles and Kevin believe that they saw a vampire. Upon investigation, they discover that Father Peter's church is overrun with bats. While the boys set about protecting themselves from vampires, Tina develops a machine which will produce a horrifying sound to scare away the bats. However, the machine fails to scare the bats, but they discover that the vampire-like figure is actually a bat scientist trying to find the bats a new home. Giles and Kevin learn about bat habitats and begin making bat boxes for the church's pests. With the aid of Tina's machine to attract the bats to the bat boxes, Father Peter's problem is solved. But whether or not there was a vampire is another mystery as Professor Fleder vanishes leaving only a bat flying away.

     Young readers who have enjoyed other books in the "Barnes and the Brains" series will be glad to have another mystery to read; however, they may be disappointed. The characters have changed little since they were first introduced. Tina remains the obnoxious know-it-all who gives little credit to Giles or her brother, Kevin. Kevin is the bumbling but good-hearted twin who comes up with a practical solution with the aid of their friend, Giles, who is the real brain. The plot follows a similar format to the other books: a case presents itself; Tina builds a machine; it fails; Kevin and Giles come with a solution using the failure. It is only the supporting details which really change. This time, the reader learns something about bats and their habits. A Creepy Case of Vampires is an easy read but offers little to readers beyond a quick paced mystery solved by familiar characters.

Recommended with reservations.

Gillian Martin Noonan is a teacher living in Old Perlican, NL.


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ISSN 1201-9364