Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Taste for Red

Booklist (September 1, 2009 (Vol. 106, No. 1))
Grades 4-6. In the glut of novels about vampires and other supernatural beings, it’s refreshing to find such a slim, sharp tale. Harris’s debut offers up an appealing sixth-grade narrator, recently moved with her parents to suburban California, who believes she’s a vampire. How else can Svetlana (formerly Stephanie) explain her desire for red foods, heightened senses, and need to sleep under the bed? Already bewildered by her forced interaction with other students (she has previously been home-schooled), Svetlana is chilled to the bone when her last teacher of the day, a raven-haired, ivory-skinned stunner, can read her thoughts. But Svetlana can pick up on Ms. Larch’s unsavory smell—“There was a whiff of something slightly rotted about her”—and Svetlana’s elderly neighbor convinces her that Larch is the vampire and that she, Svetlana, must destroy her. With concision and wit, Harris has great fun with Svetlana’s wry narration, the dastardliness of Ms. Larch, and Svetlana’s efforts to convince two nerdy boys to help combat a great force of evil. A tasty read indeed.

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