Kris, the vampire boy, is utterly adorable. He’s sweet, and solemn and completely without humour. Creating wacky, lovable characters is what Sharanya does best. Without making any statements about the characters, using just dialogues and situations, she manages to convey everything about them. So her stories tend to be peopled with characters who’re silly, funny, bad and lovable all at the same time, and whose quirks move the story onward at a ripping pace. As a reader, there’s nothing I enjoy so much as characters who grab me and take me on an adventure with them. And that’s what makes The Vampire Boy such a marvellous book. I can’t stop smiling as I read it.
Vinayak has his own brand of wackiness which is evident in his lines. The wonderful thing about the illustrations he’s done for this book is that not only has he captured the wackiness of the characters, he’s also brought a lyricism to the book with his lovely images of the tree with fireflies and the mountain at night.
I love Kris. He is just one of the most endearing characters I have encountered in a long, long time. But that again, is Sharanya’s particular gift, as we discovered at the Delhi workshop. She creates these marvelous memorable characters with just a few details. And Kris’s friends are as funny and endearing as him. The story moves along as a ripping pace, and it makes you—and your child—feel really good about life.
At another level, I also like the fact that this book is about vampires. While I don’t like books being didactic or teaching something, I am very happy that this book deals with a subject which is conventionally considered scary and people who are considered different in such a friendly, matter-of-fact manner. I read the book to a seven-year-old scaredy cat, who now thinks vampires are the best thing ever.
Vinayak can be magical, both as writer and artist, and something in this story clearly worked very well for him too. The characters are so loveable, without being anywhere near conventionally cute, and somewhere there is an element of poetry in the work. I think the collaboration between Sharanya and Vinayak really works.