A picture book that introduces young readers to the queen of the vampires.
Agatha Hattie lives in a world populated by stiffly dressed and properly behaved people. She’s a jewel to behold, with her creamy skin and long black hair, is said by the narrator to be “the envy of all” who see her, and her family’s wealth is exceeded only by that of the royal family itself. Her enviable situation is called into question, however, when she’s waylaid by a little dancing black dog while on her way home one day. The dog bites her on the shoulder, which effectively turns her into a vampire. Her distraught parents bemoan the shame this will bring to their family, so poor little Agatha runs away deep into the forest. She goes to Hogan’s Blind Alley, where she again meets the little dancing black dog, who invites her to his hollowed-out tree house for tea and reveals that she’s been selected to be queen of all the creatures of the night. The creatures cheer and praise their new queen, and Agatha vows to help them learn “how to be frightening.” Fedyk’s (Hidden Sanctuaries, 2011) story about a young girl’s supernatural transformation is so convincing that parents will likely be asked to leave the hallway light on after they share it with young readers. Moon’s lush black-and-white illustrations add an additional layer to the tale, referencing traditional fairy-tale illustrations in a grotesquely enchanting manner. Some of Fedyk’s narrative is inconsistent; for example, Agatha’s wealth is said to be less than the royal family’s, yet later, Agatha herself is referred to as a princess. It’s also wordy at times, as four stanzas on a single picture-book page are about three stanzas too many. However, the tale Fedyk weaves and the rhythm and rhymes she creates are impressive. Parents, librarians and teachers should be exceedingly cautious about the book’s horror elements, but if young readers are eager and ready for a good scare, this just might be the book for them.
A fun tale that’s sure to frighten and entertain.