Saturday, March 15, 2014

Mona the Vampire

Another picture book for budding horror-philes, MONA THE VAMPIRE by Sonia Holleyman: Unlike the “Little Dracula” series, it takes place in the mundane world and doesn’t include a “real” vampire. It’s a funny story of a little girl’s wild imagination and self-assertion of a new identity. Mona loves tales of witches and monsters. She decides being a vampire would be fun, hanging upside down all night and never going to bed. She’s sure her cat, Fang, would love being a vampire cat, too. So she fashions a cape out of the dining room curtains, decorates her face with her mother’s makeup, and wears glow-in-the-dark fangs. Her mother caters to Mona’s new appetite for “batwing soup, clammy hammy sandwiches with tomato sauce, and squashed fly pie.” Fang gets barbecued blood buns. Although Mona’s teachers, classmates, and principal react negatively to her vampire antics, she still enjoys her new persona—until she takes a shortcut home past the cemetery. Between the eerie atmosphere and the thunderstorm that soaks her, she decides she’s had enough of vampiring.

The author’s madcap illustrations will entertain parents as much as children. A true emergent vampire fan, however, might be disappointed at the absence of any actual supernatural content. Unlike a typical picture book, MONA THE VAMPIRE spawned not only a TV series (which I haven’t seen) but also numerous sequels written for slightly older readers. There's even an "Activity Book." Either the ending of the picture book has been retconned out of existence or Mona has had second thoughts, because she maintains her “vampire” persona in the sequels (the few I own, anyway). Titles include MONA THE VAMPIRE AND THE VAMPIRE HUNTER, MONA THE VAMPIRE AND THE JURASSIC PARKING LOT, MONA THE VAMPIRE AND THE BOOK OF THE SLIMY, MONA THE VAMPIRE AND THE TINNED POLTERGEIST, and MONA THE VAMPIRE AND MEN IN DARK SUITS, among others. One that I’ve read, MEN IN DARK SUITS, a take-off on MEN IN BLACK, deviates from the approximate realism of the picture book by featuring what appear to be authentic aliens. So, unless the reader wants to assume the ETs spring from Mona’s imagination, the original work and its sequels belong to different genres. If you have monster-loving kids about the age for the Berenstain Bears stories, they would enjoy these books.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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