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Book Review: Upside Down A Vampire Tale by Jesse Smart Smiley

Book Review: Upside Down A Vampire Tale by Jesse Smart Smiley

Genre:

Midgrade, Comic book

Synopsis:

Harold is a friendly young vampire — but he loves candy so much, the dentist might have to pull his teeth! Now, what if he and the dentist, plus a couple friendly bats, all get caught up in the evil plots of the local witch? It’s a wild magical romp for all ages, just in time for Halloween!

Heidi’s Hot Take:

As I mentioned in my first thoughts, this book really is cute and fun. It is appropriate for about 8 years and up (or even an advanced 7-year-old reader) and deals with common struggles for midgrade and tweens such as enjoying things that aren’t good for us (like candy), the pull between family and friends, fear of consequences, and learning that not all adults are good. These were clearly intended messages and the author did a great job keeping the story interesting and compelling without pushing the bounds of appropriate. The artwork is simple but fun, and I totally get why my boys absolutely loved this book when I picked it up for them at Comic Con.

As I also mentioned in the video, there may have been some unintended messages in the story, which probably weren’t a big deal but did make me raise my eyebrows.  One of the messages, that not all adults are good,  is tied to a witch trying to steal from the human scientist that Harold’s family lives with. She tricks him into a date to get access to his house. Harold tries to chase her off to protect the scientist.  Later Harold sets up the scientist with the nice nurse from his dentist’s office.  I could see this being problematic if a child is a product of divorce and doesn’t like the person their parent is seeing and decides to pull the same stunt.  (I say this as a child who was a product of divorce and who, thanks to Hallmark movies, felt like it was my job to help my mom find her happily ever after.) While not a deal breaker for the read, it might be something a parent in that situation would want to talk through with their kiddo if they read it together.

Another odd message at the end is that the parents reveal that the vampire hunt Harold was afraid he would miss was to hunt witches and that they too had to have their teeth removed because vampires love candy. This was a huge part of the story. Harold didn’t go home after his dentist appointment because he thought that his parents would be upset he had to have his teeth removed and wouldn’t let him go on his first hunt. But he didn’t know that the first hunt was about witches. Maybe I read too much into it, but it seemed like the witch who we all thought was the villain may have been very justified in her attack on the vampires.  It also gave the message that adults don’t tell kids everything (I know, we don’t.) Again, I’m probably reading too much into it but it did have me hesitating on whether to enjoy the end of the story. While many kids might not have made the connection I made, I think there’s enough content in the tween market nowadays that is challenging the same messages so kids are more likely to think about these kinds of things.

All that being said, it really was a cute and fun read. I totally understand why this was a favorite for my boys, especially at Halloween. They like fun more than scary!

Definitely worth picking up if you have a tween who likes comic-style stories!

You can check it out  on Amazon

Until Next Time,

Keep Reading! 

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