Friday, October 8, 2021

Review - The Case of Vampire Vivian

The Case of Vampire Vivian
(Science Solves It!)
by Michelle Knudsen
illustrated by Amy Wummer
Date: 2003
Publisher: Kane Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

Watch out! The new girl in town, Vivian, wears a bat T-shirt and bat earrings. Suddenly, there are bats flying all around at night! Does she have something to do with them? Is she really...a vampire?

(synopsis from Goodreads)

The overall goal of these books is admirable, but there are bound to be some hits and misses within the series. I picked this book up because I was looking for a Halloween-themed read. That's not what this is at all, though. It's a science-based book that's mostly about bats, and that also misses an opportunity to focus on first impressions and snap judgements.

There's a new girl at school named Vivian. She really likes bats, and her wardrobe reflects it. So, naturally, the other kids assume she's a vampire. (Whatever.) Things only escalate when Molly notices bats flying around outside her house, and she and her friends start doing research about bats to try to figure out if the new girl is actually a vampire or not. (The boys are convinced she is.) Eventually, Vivian sees them doing their research and approaches them, at which point she teaches them lots of bat facts.

The whole dynamic between the kids rubbed me the wrong way. Molly, Frank, and Louis spend much of the book talking about Vivian behind her back, and the whole thing seems like it could've devolved really easily into bullying. There's a throwaway line at the end about how Vivian was a good sport about the whole vampire thing, but in reality, it would be tough for the new kid to be whispered about by ignorant classmates and accused of being a mythical monster.

There were some interesting bat facts sprinkled throughout the book, and the goal seemed to be to make bats not so scary. But that was blown away with the second-to-last of these facts, which was a big red warning not to touch a bat because they carry dangerous diseases like rabies. This was after trying to convince kids not to be scared of bats, so I'm not quite sure what they were going for with the message.

So... this is neither a vampire book nor a Halloween book. It will most likely only appeal to kids who are fascinated by bats. Even then, I'm not sure I'd recommend it due to the questionable way the kids were behaving toward their new classmate.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.33 out of 5

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