This is a gorgeous book with stunningly evocative illustrations. Muted colours and lovely acrylic texture combine to create a soft darkness — intriguing and alluring. Even if it had no words, this book would be well worth owning.
But it does have words. Lovely words. Printed in silver, they catch the light as you tilt the pages, shining out from the illustrations.
And boy, do these words shine — amazing complexity delivered with such economy and simplicity. It is what picture book authors strive for and so often fall short of.
Although the words are about vampires, the meaning is deeper. They tell a story about growing up, about individuality and about choice — about becoming who you want to be rather than what you are destined to be. Fondly remembered childhood and harsh realities mix in the mind of an unnamed teenager who simply refers to himself as ‘vampyre’ — his individuality smothered by what he is supposed to be.
I am Vampyre.
I live in darkness.
I long for light.
Despite the heavy weight of family and tradition, despite the pain and danger of sunlight, the young man nevertheless struggles forward “into the light”, towards hope.
Even though it is about vampires, this book is visually and verbally bloodless, with only the occasional hint of pointy teeth. This absence is a nice touch.
Despite being a picture book, Vampyre is not for little kids. It’s being promoted as 8+, but I can see it being read by even older kids, as well as adults, perhaps even studied in high school.
Margaret Wild is well known for her children’s picture books, which include Our Granny, Fox and the wonderful Miss Lily’s Fabulous Pink Feather Boa, while Andrew Yeo is new to picture books. I look forward to seeing what Yeo will do next.
Catch ya later, George
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