Jumpdrives & Cantrips


Little Vampire Goes to School
February 12, 2008, 1514
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , , ,

Little Vampire Goes to School Joann Sfar, unbeknownst to me, is actually quite famous in the world of comic books & des bandes desinées. I stumbled upon Little Vampire Goes to School (again, in the bargain bin) in the children’s books section and thought it was too amusing to pass up. Little did I know that Sfar, born in France, is apparently “one of the most important artists of the new wave of Franco-Belgian comics,” according to Wikipedia. While I don’t always put a lot of stock in Wikipedia, I have passing familiarity with some of his other titles, such as The Rabbi’s Cat.

The little vampire series is meant for school-aged children (around 8-10 years old), but is an engaging and amusing book even for adults. It follows the adventures of Little Vampire and his dog, Phantomat, as Little Vampire decides he wants to go to school to be with children his own age. The ghosts and monsters living with his family help him attend school by making their own night-time school since there are no classes at night. In these classes Little Vampire starts a correspondence with one of the daytime students in the school via his school workbook.

The original, Petit Vampire va à l’école, was published in France in 1999. I suspect the French would be simple enough that it could be good practice if you’re looking for a low-level graphic novel to get your feet wet in the language. As well, the artwork is simple but appealing, and the colouration draws the eye, despite being spare in parts. The monsters themselves are drawn to be cute rather than horrible, making this a good gift for the perky goffs of the world.

This is a book that does not insult the intelligence of children, but encourages self-reliance and self-reflection. When the daytime student, Michael, gives an oath to protect the dead, the Captain of the Dead notes his oath will be more effective if he makes the sign of a cross. Michael refuses, and has a discussion with the Captain about his thoughts on religion, where the Captain encourages him to think about things a little more. When Michael and Little Vampire discuss this, neither can really figure out what the Captain means, and then abruptly the conversation turns to toys. It’s not all that often that questions of religious belief and philosophy pop up in popular children’s literature, making this a notable book.

While the price is a little steep unless you are fortunate enough to find this in a bargain bin like I did, it would be worth the cost if you have an interest in graphic novels. However, as an adult reader, I did find parts of the translation stilted and the story itself resolved too quickly to justify a full price purchase in my opinion.

Sfar, Joann. Little Vampire Goes to School. Trans. Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. 30 plates, full colour. $20.95 (Canadian), or $3.99 in the bargain bin if you’re lucky…

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