Friday, August 2, 2019

Review - Vampire Baby

Vampire Baby
by Kelly Bennett
illustrated by Paul Meisel
Date: 2013
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: hardcover
Source: library

When Tootie gets her first teeth, it’s clear to her big brother that she’s no ordinary baby. But how to convince Mom and Dad?

It happens overnight: little sister Tootie goes from cuddly, ga-ga-googoo, I-want-my-ba-ba baby...vampire baby. Now she’s sinking her pointy fangs into everything — furniture, toys, and especially her big brother ("Youch, Tootie! No bite!" ). Mom insists that it’s just a phase, but Tootie’s brother knows better. Just look at her hairline! Or the fact that all her favorite foods are bloodred! With perfect comic timing, Kelly Bennett and Paul Meisel give a fresh slant to the new-baby story, proving that even monstrous little arrivals have a funny way of staking their siblings’ affections.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This book sounds a lot cuter than it actually is. It reminded me a bit of Maureen Wright's Anna and the Tooth Fairy, in that both books have children with baby siblings that they believe are supernatural creatures. In Vampire Baby, however, there isn't that much of a story. Just lots of biting.

When baby Tootie (who names their kid Tootie?!) gets her first teeth, they're not the cute little baby teeth that most infants get. No, Tootie gets her canines. And she uses them. She eats the newspaper. She chews on the dog's toys. And, most troublesome of all, she bites her brother. The baby has a weird hairline, so added to the fangs, it's enough to convince the kid that his baby sister is a vampire. Tired of the biting, he takes her to a store, sticks a sign on her, and tries to give her away to a vampire family (who just happen to be doing their grocery shopping). But when Tootie bites one of them and gets yelled at, the boy comes to his sister's defense. Then everything's good.

There's not much of a resolution. Tootie's apparently still biting, and is probably still a vampire (which could lead to some uncomfortable questions for Mom; was there some vampire hanky-panky her husband doesn't know about?). Why the boy decides that it's now okay to have a biting vampire in the family isn't really explained. I guess what I'm saying is that the premise and setup are fun... but the execution and plot are a bit lacking.

The illustrations are cute, but nothing special. I like the family of stereotypical vampires the boy meets at the store. Other than that, though, the pictures aren't really memorable.

A story about a vampire baby seems like it should be pretty fun. Unfortunately, the idea in this case is better than the actual book. Two better children's books about vampires that I've read recently are Asiago by Adam McHeffey and Vlad the Rad by Brigette Barrager. And if you're looking for books about kids mistaking their siblings for magical creatures, I'd recommend Anna and the Tooth Fairy instead.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3.17 out of 5

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