Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just two quick ones...

Picture book:  Bandit, by Karen Rostoker-Gruber--Bandit is a cat with a comfortable life. He has sunshine, carpeted floors, a fuzzy mouse, tuna. Suddenly, people come along and pick up the couch. They box up the books. Michelle grabs Bandit and puts him in the cat carrier and takes him for a much longer ride than just a trip to the vet. What's going on? Puns abound as Bandit contemplates the changes. The illustrations by Vincent Nguyen look as though they were lifted out of a large-scale comic book. By which I mean the pictures are line drawings colored in fine dots. Mr. Nguyen gives Bandit wonderful expression as the cat realizes his life is altering forever.

Juvenile book: The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eighth Grade Bites, by Heather Brewer--This one is not on the SCBAN list for 2010-2011. I include it in the reviews because its sequel Ninth Grade Slays is on the list. I wanted to read them in order (I'm funny that way). Living quietly in upstate New York, Vlad has always known he is a vampire. The son of a vampire father and a human mother, he has never fed on the blood of a human (well, not counting the one bite of his best friend when they were eight). His mother's best friend made sure he and his father had a sufficient supply of expired or nearly-expired blood from the local hospital where she works. When Vlad's mother and father die in a mysterious flash-fire three years before the book opens, Nelly takes Vlad in to raise. Now in eighth grade, Vlad goes to school wearing lots of sunscreen, tussles with bullies, has a crush on a girl, and is still best friends with Henry --who, when Vlad apologizes for that bite when they were eight, simply says, "No problem. Just stay away from the cat or Mom will throw a fit."

Vlad's adventures begin when his English teacher disappears. The substitute, Mr. Otis, seems a little off. His behavior toward Vlad is suspicious at best, and our hero wonders if Mr. Otis knows his secret. More importantly--what does Mr. Otis intend to do with it?

Ms. Brewer tells Vlad's story with wit and style. There's not so much blood as to be off-putting, but readers who don't mind gore will not find it lacking. I am eagerly anticipating Ninth Grade Slays.

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