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Review: Dracula Madness

To be honest, I read this title a while ago, and set it aside to review for when I was caught up with my life.  And while I’m still catching up, I actually felt compelled to finally put up this review after watching my 8-year-old niece read this aloud to her 6-year-old sister.  My one regret, was not asking the 8-year-old what she thought of it, but I definitely was able to read the rapt attention of the 6-year-old!

Dracula Madness  (A Sam & Friends Mystery . Book One)
Written by Mary Labatt & illustrated by Jo Rioux
Rated for ages 7-10
Kids Can Press, March 2009, 96 p.
ISBN 978-1-55453-4180-0 (HC) $16.95 978-1-55453-303-2 (PBK) $7.95

This isn’t the first time I’ve read a book where the central character is a dog. But it’s the first time the dog has taken on the characteristics of a child.  Sam’s owners have sold their house and bought a new one. Sam is not happy with the move and is resisting it in every way she knows how, from refusing to get out of the car, to planning her getaway.  Her new neighbor is Jennie, a young girl who is missing her best friend and former neighbor terribly. When she introduces herself to her new neighbors she discovers that while they don’t have children, they do have a dog.

Jennie offers to take care of Sam for her new neighbors, and is shocked to discover that Sam can communicate with her telepathically.  While Jennie adjusts to this exciting revelation, Sam insists on discovering what the creepy neighbor McIver is up to. Is he just the town recluse? A vampire?   Between Jennie, her friend Beth, and Sam, this trio will have to be very careful around the old McIver place.

While this title is not earth-shatteringly suspensful, it is entertaining for the younger crowd.  I found myself laughing at parts, because it seemed so silly, but that was me, looking through my adult lens. Watching my young nieces, it was obvious this book would hold the attention of the appropriate age group.

The artwork is very simple – black and white line drawings.  I think I would have preferred to see this title done in color. The cover – is quite attractive and opening up to see the lack of color was a bit of a disappointment. 
Anyone looking for a quick read for their young readers will probably be satisfied with this title.

This review is based on an advanced reading copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Kids Can Press.

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 3 and regularly reviews for SLJ, LMC. In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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