Attack of the Vampire Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales by David Lubar. Starscape / Tor Teen. 2011. Reviewed from ARC from publisher.
The Good: This is the most recent of Lubar’s “weenie” series of short story collections. Whoever thinks the short story is dead, or that kids don’t like short stories, haven’t talked to any real live kids and haven’t read the latest is this popular series.
What impresses me most about this short story collection is there is not a weak story in it. And it’s his fifth volume of such short stories! That’s pretty darn amazing.
What I love most about Vampire Weenies is just how scary the stories are. I began looking over my shoulder, wondering what was behind me. These are a delicious level of creepy, and just perfect for the target audience (middle grade) as well as older readers. Lubar uses just the right mix of horror, suspense, and a touch of humor, while avoiding any gorefest. Any gore is in the imagination of the reader, which is exactly how I like my horror. The stories reminded me of Twilight Zone at its best, though it’s a little sad to think that if I used that to booktalk this to classes I would get a lot of blank looks.
These are true short stories. Sometimes, you just want a quick scare or quick laugh. Short short stories like this are also perfect for readalouds during class or camp visits. Lubar rarely gives any ages for the main characters in these stories, which makes it easier for any reader to relate to this collection without it being either too young or too old. There is also a lot of karma — bad things happen, yes, but they tend to happen to kids who are being mean or self centered or cruel. Let’s put it this way: deciding to torment your sister by inviting real vampires to her fake “vampire weenie friends” party (complete with snarky comments about sparkle) will not end well. Sneaking out of the house? Will not end well. Tormenting a locked up vampire? Will not end well. Taking someone else’s ear buds? Will not …. well, you get the picture.
I also liked that, at the end of the book, Lubar includes a few short sentences about the inspiration for each story. While some kids could care less, others, like me who just like to know more, or aspiring writers who wonder where inspiration comes from, will enjoy the little bit more about each story.