Pace and Pham have choreographed a delightful tale of a winsome young vampire trying to make her ballerina dreams come true.
The deadpan text includes plenty of good advice for anyone with dancing aspirations: “Always drink plenty of water and eat healthy meals…get a good day’s sleep…move with your head held high,” and “Practice! Practice! PRACTICE!” But this vampire differs quite a bit from her fellow dance students, with her black leotard and winged cape, her pointy fangs and her ability to “poof” into a bat at the most inopportune moment. Not only does she not fit in, but she also frightens her classmates and alarms Madame with the absence of her reflection in the studio mirror. As the evening of her big debut nears, the vampirina’s supportive family rallies around her and creates a beautiful costume of spider lace and swan feathers. Then “the lights dim… / the music swells, / and the curtain opens”—as does a dramatic double gatefold to reveal the five dancers executing an exuberant performance. The pen-and-ink–and-watercolor illustrations paint a cozy blue-gray world for the vampires’ home, contrasting with the brighter, lighter dance school portrayed in pinks. Deft strokes capture facial expressions that reveal nervousness, effort, fear, surprise, confidence and joy. By the show’s end, the prima vampire has exceeded everyone’s expectations, including her own.
Readers will applaud this elegantly designed, well-told story. Brava, indeed. (Picture book. 3-6)