Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: Dick and Jane and Vampires

A mashup early reader featuring those suburban siblings Dick and Jane and vampires? Bite me. Seriously, though, this is not a joke. Author Laura Marchesani reworked stories from the original Dick and Jane books to include a new character--a vampire who flits in and out of the short chapters. Sometimes he appears as a bat and sometimes as a vampire.

At first, Vampire is someone to flee, and in the first half of this 144-page early reader, Dick, Jane, and toddler Sally do just that. By the the second half, they have gotten used to Vampire and he becomes a kind of playmate. He jumps rope with Dick and Jane, plays dress up, and even does somersaults on the lawn. Needless to say, Vampire doesn't bite anyone's neck and seems to have no need of human blood. (Unless he does his dining discretely at night; the book doesn't say.) In the final chapters, Vampire has found a soulmate, a female vampire, and everyone is happy for the couple.

So what's the verdict? Is the addition of the vampire enough to make this an engaging book for beginning readers or is it a gimmick? My feeling is that this is a book more for the parents--make that the grandparents--of these kids. Children today, not brought up on these books, won't get the humor. And bottom line, even with a spooky vampire to heighten interest, the stories remain boring. For a behind-the-scenes look at how Dick and Jane and Vampires was put together click here.

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