3 out of 4 stars
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Vampires at Easter is a children’s book written by R.F. Kristi and illustrated by Jorge Valle. It is Book 6 in the Diary of a Snoopy Cat series and can be easily read as a standalone story. Inca is a Siberian kitty who runs a detective agency consisting of several cats, two dogs, and one very smart hamster (yes, this is a work of fiction). She and her feline siblings live with their human mom Missy in London.
When Missy is hired to do an Easter catering job in Bran Castle in Transylvania, the kitties and their hamster buddy travel there with her and Aunt Florence. They befriend Katzki, a Calico cat, while searching for some missing cheese. Katzi is in a race against time to save his human friend Dracco from turning into a full-fledged vampire. Can Inca and her crew help rescue young Dracco from this dreaded transformation before it’s too late? Twists and turns abound as the detectives try to help their new friends.
I enjoyed reading this entertaining story which has just the right dose of creepiness without being super scary. The book is written in first person in a diary format, although it reads more like a straight narrative than a diary. Inca is a likable main character who is protective of her siblings and a steady leader. There is a large cast of characters to keep track of, although Charlotte the hamster shines with her sharp-witted mind.
The main plot doesn’t emerge until almost the end of the first half of the story. Since this is a children’s book, I think it would have been better to have a tighter plot right from the start. Otherwise, a child’s mind can start to wander, especially in a 176-page book. On a lighter note, the scattered, whimsical illustrations add pizazz without making the story feel like a picture book. The depiction of the young “vampire-to-be” is particularly cute.
The biggest gripe I had with this story is the high number of grammatical and spelling errors. There are missing commas and end quotation marks in dialogue, missing periods, and missing words, among other errors. The author would certainly benefit from the services of a good editor.
I would recommend this book to children who enjoy creepy stories and animal characters who display human traits. It is difficult to judge the age range best suited for this story. While the subject matter and characters would appeal to children ages 6-9, the long length of the book might prove challenging for their attention span (even as a read-aloud). As for older children ages 10-12, I think they would find it a bit juvenile for their tastes.
I give this book a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. Although it is an interesting, creative read, the errors and plot issues prevent me from awarding the highest rating. The themes of friendship, helping others, and working together to solve a problem are a nice way to reinforce good values in children. Kids are sure to love Inca and her lively cohorts in this fun book.
Vampires at Easter, Diary of a Snoopy Cat
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