Review Blog

Sep 20 2011

Vampyre by Margaret Wild

cover image

Ill. by Andrew Yeo. Walker Books, 2011. ISBN 9781921529221.
(Ages 10+) Picture book. In a few evocative and imaginative words, Margaret Wild gives her story. A boy, the son of a vampyre family strives for something else. He loved being young, able to ride on his father's shoulders, talk to the deer and the birds, being part of his family. But now he is older, the birds and deer shun him, he cannot go into the light, the townspeople wait for him with sharpened spears.
But he still wants the light, and so goes out, only to be dragged back by his father, and lying ill for three days, is nursed by his mother. This however does not deter him, and he repudiates his life once again, to be greeted by the deer and the birds, walking into the light.
Blue grey dominates the first few pages, giving an emotive look at the home of the vampyre, with its lack of light, a place that is always night. But as the youth approaches the light, the pages soften to a reddish brown, a lighter, softer look is given. The acrylic work of Andrew Yeo is stunning, adding to the image created by the words, of a boy trying to escape the fear and loathing of his past to the light of the future.
Much could be read into the words and images created by this book, and perhaps an astute librarian could use it to introduce other books about standing firm, believing in yourself or rejecting the past. And there are quite a few around at the moment, notably I am Thomas by Libby Gleeson and Armin Greder. As with I am Thomas, I found this book to be very scary. The boy is rejecting all that he knows and wants to follow his dream, even though in this case it may lead to illness if not death.
Perhaps upper primary and lower secondary students could discuss this book in the light of other vampire books which abound at the moment, comparing it with some in which the vampire rejects his background, striving for something better. The novel by Catherine Jinks, The reformed vampire support group comes immediately to mind where vampires meet together to support each other in their quest to be normal, and not to fang. For others of this ilk, see my article in Magpies, To fang or not to fang, in which I list all the vampire books which show a vampire rejecting what he was born to do.
Fran Knight

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