As any vampire worth his garlic salt will tell you, vampire-esque activities are not wholly confined to Halloween.
Indeed, for Vladislav Varnaby Roland Dragul,Vlad for short, being a stylish vampire is a year-long occupation.
Vlad’s physical anomaly sets him far apart from his black haute couture counterparts. He is loathe to tell his vampire mates what lurks beneath his mysteriously black veneer for fear of the ridicule he is sure they will unleash upon him.
Going out on a limb (literally), he attempts to confide in his best friend, Shelly but falls short of full disclosure when inspiration propels him in a new direction. He reasons if he can’t change who he is, he can at least camouflage the fact. All goes swimmingly for a while but as plans to conceal are want to do, things eventually unravel until Vlad decides he is better off alone. Just as he is about to sink into a quagmire of despair, Shelly reveals a stunning secret of her own and that, my friends, changes everything.
I won’t giveaway the colour-induced secret here, although clever readers will deduce that for themselves from the outrageously audacious cover. Suffice to say this is a lovely, Halloween flavoured take on the corrosion of self-esteem when ones identity is in question. Vlad is beset with feelings of failure and non conformity because he sports a unique and, it has to be said, very fetching feature which does set him apart from his contemporaries. That is part of life – or life after death if you’re a vampire kid. What’s more important is that with the help of an understanding and kind-hearted friend, he finds a new kind of confidence and sense of pride in his difference rather than shame. A useful life affirmation if ever there was one.
Engaging text is portrayed with the most delicious array of pecilled illustrations. Rich in detail, the monster-suffused drawings begin in muted shades of deep purples, greys and of course, elegant blacks but gradually develop into a lollypop land of bright fuchsia entoned fabulousness. It’s like the most riotous trick or treat night imaginable which ensures a fun experience for young readers outside the message to love the skin you’re in whether it be deathly shades of pale or otherwise.
Get your spook on with Vlad.
Title: Vlad: The Fabulous Vampire
Author Illustrator: Flavia Z Drago
Publisher: Walker Books Australia,$27.99
Publication Date: 4 October 2023
For ages: 3 – 7
Type: Picture Book