A zany picture book for twisted children, LITTLE DRACULA’S FIRST BITE (1986) by Martin Waddell (illustrated by Joseph Wright), also has many visual gags to appeal to adult horror fans. Little Dracula, a bald, green boy with a pair of fangs, longs to go to the village like his father, Big Dracula (who leaves every evening after breakfast and returns to the castle every morning), to “fright and bite” the local population. One night Big Dracula stays home while Igor takes Little D in the coach—pulled by a zombie—to the village. Sadly, when Little Dracula invades Lovely Lucie’s bedchamber and pounces at her, she isn’t a bit scared. Neither are any of the other people he attacks. He can’t even frighten a dog. Finally he manages a bite, but the “victim” breaks his fangs. Fortunately, the dentist reassures his parents that Little D has lost only his baby teeth. So the tale, although vampirishly transgressive enough to please child readers, has a happy ending in which neither Little Dracula himself nor any human or animal villagers are harmed.
Wright’s illustrations really “make” the story. Like a Gothic version of a Richard Scarry picture book, LITTLE DRACULA’S FIRST BITE has an abundance of sly details tucked into the corners of almost every page. The first two-page spread, a panoramic view of the castle and environs with a numbered guide to its features, shows us Igor the pet werewolf, Batty the pet bat, and Handy (reminiscent of Thing on THE ADDAMS FAMILY), among many other characters and creatures. A sign in front of the castle, planted amid a bed of carnivorous plants, warns that Trespassers Will Be Bitten. The household ghost rides along in the back of the coach, while a dangling sausage keeps the coach-zombie moving. The road to the village crosses Royal Blood River. Some of the local businesses include the Stake Inn and the Bat & Castle pub. Back at the castle, Igor mops the floor with an upside-down zombie. Little Dracula’s bunny slippers and his baby sister Millicent’s teddy bear have fangs. And of course their favorite fairy is the Tooth Fairy.
Some other books in this series (which I haven’t read) include LITTLE DRACULA’S CHRISTMAS, LITTLE DRACULA GOES TO SCHOOL, and LITTLE DRACULA AT THE SEASHORE. (I can’t help wondering whether his family moon-bathes.)
Margaret L. CarterCarter's Crypt