Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dear Vampa

Booklist (June 1, 2009 (Vol. 105, No. 19))
Grades K-2. Life (or undeath) is hard. In a letter to his “Dear Vampa,” young Bram Pire describes why he and his family will be vacating their creepy mansion in Pennsylvania for the bleaker pastures of Transylvania. It’s the fault of the new neighbors, the Wolfsons. They aren’t anything like the Pires. They dress in bright colors—no black capes! They work, sing, and play all day, while the Pires are trying to log some coffin-hours. They sunbathe—disgusting! And when the neighbor kids slingshot the Pires as they are flying around in bat form, well, it’s the final nail in the coffin. Collins contrasts Edward Gorey–style etchings (the Pires) with sunny cartooning (the Wolfsons), leading to plenty of hilarious overlaps, the most impressive of which is a starkly divided two-page spread of both houses: cheery picket fence on one half, warped wrought iron on the other, and so on. The twist ending is that the Wolfsons are werewolves, and are sorry to see the Pires go. Not exactly a happy ending, but even that seems somehow appropriate.

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