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The Little Vampire

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About The Book

An unlikely friendship forms between a young boy and vampire in this sweet and funny first book in the classic middle grade Little Vampire series—newly translated from the original German and perfect for readers who love Hotel Transylvania and The Addams Family!

Nine-year-old Tony loves ghosts and horror stories, but when he’s left home alone one night, he gets quite the fright as Rudolph the little vampire flies in the window! After a rough start, Rudolph stops trying to bite Tony and the two become fast friends. Tony even visits the little vampire’s family vault in the graveyard where he narrowly escapes the clutches of Rudolph’s fearsome Great-Aunt Dorothy.

But what will happen when Tony’s parents invite his new friend for dinner?

Excerpt

1. The Thing in the Window

The Thing in the Window
It was Saturday, and Tony’s parents would be going out that night, as usual.

“Where are you guys going tonight?” Tony asked his mother that afternoon while she was cleaning the house.

“Well,” she said, “we’re going to that new Italian place for dinner, and then maybe we’ll go dancing.”

“What d’you mean, ‘maybe’?” asked Tony.

“We haven’t really decided yet,” his mother explained. “Why are you so interested?”

“Uh, no reason,” muttered Tony. He didn’t want to admit that he wanted to watch a scary movie that started at ten o’clock, but his mother was already suspicious.

“Tony,” she said, and turned so she could look him straight in the eye, “you’re not planning to stay up late watching television, are you?”

“Of course not, Mom,” Tony cried. “I was just wondering what you and Dad were gonna do.” Luckily, his mother had gone back to straightening up, so she didn’t see his face turn red.

“If I can’t convince your father to take me dancing, we’ll probably just go to the movies,” she said. “Either way, we won’t be home before midnight.”

Finally it was evening and dark outside. His parents had left a while earlier, and Tony was alone in the apartment. He was sitting up in bed in his pajamas with the covers pulled up to his chin, reading The Truth about Frankenstein. In the story, a man wearing a flowing black coat had just gotten up onstage at a traveling show to announce the monster’s entrance. Suddenly Tony’s alarm rang. Nearly ten o’clock already? Almost time for his movie!

Tony jumped out of bed, grabbed the remote, and switched off his bedside light. He cuddled back under his covers as he turned the TV on. The basketball game was still on, and the light from the television made Tony’s room shadowy and dim. On the wall opposite his bed hung a King Kong poster. The beast glared down at him, and the menacing look matched Tony’s mood perfectly. He was feeling wild and adventurous. He started imagining that he was the sole survivor of a shipwreck, stranded on a South Seas island full of wild animals. His soft, warm bed was his hideout, and he could crawl into it whenever he wanted to go unseen. He even had a pile of provisions at the entrance to his little nook. All that was missing was something to drink. Tony thought of the bottle of apple juice in the fridge, but getting it meant he would have to go down the dark hallway! Then he’d have to swim back to the ship, past the bloodthirsty sharks that lurked in search of prey! Tony shivered at the thoughts his imagination created. But didn’t castaways die of thirst more often than they did of hunger?

Taking a deep breath to boost his courage, he set off. He hated the hallway, with that burnt-out bulb. He hated the coats dangling in the closet that looked like ghosts. And then there was the stuffed rabbit in his mother’s office that terrified him, even though he loved scaring other kids with it. Finally he made it to the kitchen. He took the plastic bottle of apple juice out of the fridge and grabbed a small pack of potato chips. He kept an ear on the sounds from the TV the whole time, so he could hear when the scary movie started. He heard a woman’s voice. Probably the title sequence. Tony tucked the bottle under his arm and hurried back.

He didn’t get far into the hallway before he realized that something was wrong. He stood still and listened. Then suddenly he realized what it was—he couldn’t hear the TV anymore! He pictured someone sneaking into his room to turn it off. Tony’s heart started beating fast and his stomach churned in fear, and he got a lump in his throat. Frightening images came into his head, images of men with stockings over their heads who broke into empty apartments at night to rob them, and who got rid of anything and anyone who stood in their way! Tony remembered that his bedroom window was open and realized that a burglar could easily climb over the neighbor’s balcony and get in.

All of a sudden there was a thump. Tony had dropped the bottle of apple juice he’d been carrying. It rolled down the hall and stopped just in front of his bedroom door. Tony held his breath and waited… but nothing happened. Maybe he had just let his imagination get the best of him again. But why was the TV off?

He walked over to the bottle and picked it up, then carefully pushed the bedroom door open wide. There was a funny smell, a musty, mildewy odor like a basement, but with a hint of something burnt. Was it coming from the TV? Had the wire overheated? He quickly pulled out the plug.

Then Tony heard a strange crackling sound that seemed to be coming from the window. He thought he saw a shadow behind the curtain. He slowly stepped forward, his legs wobbly. The strange smell got stronger. Now it smelled like someone had lit a whole box of matches. The crackling sound got louder, stopping Tony dead in his tracks. There was something sitting on the windowsill, next to the curtains that were fluttering in the wind. The thing was so terrifying that Tony thought he was going to die of fright. Two small bloodshot eyes looked at him out of a chalk-white face framed by shaggy hair that hung down onto a black cape. A huge blood-red mouth opened and closed, making a hideous clicking noise and revealing a set of dazzlingly white teeth—including fangs like pointy daggers. Tony’s hair stood on end and his blood went cold. This thing in the window was worse than King Kong, worse than Frankenstein’s monster, and even worse than Dracula. It was the most horrible thing Tony had ever seen!

The thing seemed to be enjoying the fact that Tony was scared to death, because it closed its mouth and a huge smile spread across its face, making its two fangs look even longer and sharper than before.

“A vampire!” cried Tony.

The thing answered with a voice that sounded as though it came from the deepest depths of the earth: “Yes, exactly, a vampire!” And with that, it sprang into the room and stood blocking the door. “Are you afraid?” it asked.

Tony couldn’t say a word.

“You’re pretty skinny. Not a lot of meat on you.” The vampire’s wild gaze looked him up and down. “Where are your parents?”

“A-at the m-movies,” stuttered Tony.

“I see. And your father, is he in good health? Does he have good blood?” asked the vampire with a chuckle. Tony saw his fangs glimmer in the moonlight. “As you probably know, we live on blood.”

“I—I have r-really bad b-blood,” stuttered Tony. “I have to take pills for it.”

“You poor thing.” The vampire took a step toward Tony. “Is that really true?”

“Don’t touch me!” screamed Tony. As he tried to get past the vampire, he accidentally hit the bag of jelly beans that were on his bedside table and scattered them across the rug. The vampire let out a grumbling laugh that sounded like thunder.

“Oh! Jelly beans,” he said, his tone softening. “How sweet.” He picked up a jelly bean. “My grandma used to buy me these before I became a vampire,” he mumbled.

He popped a red jelly bean into his mouth and chewed on it for a while. Suddenly he spit it out and started to choke and cough, muttering furiously at the same time. Tony used this opportunity to run and hide behind his desk chair. But the vampire was so exhausted by his coughing attack that he fell onto the bed and didn’t move for several minutes. Then he pulled a bloodstained handkerchief out from under his cape and blew his nose, long and hard.

“That could only happen to me,” he grumbled. “My mother warned me.”

“Warned you about what?” asked Tony, curious and feeling a little bit safer behind his desk.

The vampire gave him a dirty look. “That vampires have very sensitive stomachs. Candy is terrible for us.”

Tony felt sorry for him. “Is apple juice okay?” he asked.

The vampire gave out a loud scream. “Are you trying to poison me?” he yelled.

“Sorry,” said Tony quietly “I just thought maybe…”

“It’s okay,” the vampire added in a friendly tone.

Tony let out a sigh of relief. It seemed the vampire wasn’t really angry. Actually, Tony thought, he seemed to be a very nice vampire in spite of his rather unpleasant looks. He’d always imagined that vampires would be much scarier.

“Are you really old?” Tony asked.

“Mega old.”

“But you’re smaller than me.”

“Yeah. I died when I was a kid.”

“Oh, I see.” Tony hadn’t expected that. “And have you been—I mean, do you have a grave?”

The vampire chuckled. “Of course. You can come visit me there if you want, but only after the sun sets. We sleep during the day.”

“I know that,” Tony bragged. Finally he could show off his vampire knowledge. “Vampires die if exposed to the sun. That’s why they always have to hurry through their night’s business, so they can get back to their graves before the sun starts to come up.”

“So you think you know a lot about us,” said the vampire maliciously.

“If you find a vampire in its grave, you have to drive a wooden stake through its heart!” continued Tony.

Oops. Tony realized he shouldn’t have said that. The vampire let out a bloodcurdling shriek and lunged at him. Tony quickly scrambled out from behind the desk and headed for the door, with the furious vampire on his heels. The vampire caught up with him just before he got there.

Now I’m done for, thought Tony, his back to the door. He’s going to bite me! His whole body was shaking. The vampire stood in front of him, breathing deeply. His teeth were making that terrible clicking sound, and his eyes were burning like coal. He picked Tony up and shook him.

“If you ever mention the wooden stake thing again, it will be the last thing you ever say. Understood?”

“Y-yes,” stammered Tony. “I—I didn’t mean to make you angry. Really I didn’t.”

“Sit down,” said the vampire harshly. Tony obeyed. The vampire started pacing back and forth across the room. “What am I going to do with you now?” he asked.

“We could listen to music,” suggested Tony.

“No!” yelled the vampire.

“Or play chess.”

“No!”

“I could show you my baseball cards?”

“No, no, NO!”

“Then I don’t know,” said Tony, out of ideas.

Frustrated, the vampire grabbed the King Kong poster and let out a wild scream. “Aaaaarghhh!” he yelled as he ripped the poster off the wall and tore it into a thousand tiny pieces.

“That was mean,” protested Tony. “That was my favorite poster.”

“Yeah, so?” hissed the vampire. Then he grabbed a few of Tony’s books off a shelf and tore them up as well. Page after page fluttered down onto the bed.

“Hey, those are my books!” cried Tony. “I bought those with my own money.”

Suddenly the vampire stopped, and a contented smile appeared on his face.

Dracula,” he said. “My favorite book.” He looked at Tony, his eyes shining, “May I borrow this?”

“Okay, I guess,” Tony said, feeling unsure about what the vampire might do. “But you have to bring it back, okay?”

“Of course.” Happy, the vampire tucked the book under his cape. “By the way, what’s your name?” he asked.

“Tony. What’s yours?”

“Rudolph.”

“Rudolph?” Tony had never heard of anyone with that name, but he didn’t want to make the vampire mad again. “That’s a really nice name,” he said.

“You think so?” asked the vampire.

“Yes, really, and it fits you.”

The vampire looked very flattered. “Tony is a nice name too.”

“I don’t like it that much,” said Tony, “but my father’s name is Anton, and he wanted to name me after himself.”

“I see.”

“My grandfather’s name is Anton too.”

“I’m not named after anyone. Actually, I’ve always thought Rudolph was a pretty weird name,” the vampire said. “But you get used to it.”

“Yeah, you get used to it,” sighed Tony.

“Hey, are you home alone a lot?” the vampire asked.

“Every Saturday night.”

“And you never get scared?”

“Sometimes I do.”

“Me too. Especially of the dark,” added the vampire. “My father always says, ‘Rudolph, you’re not a vampire. You’re a chicken.’?” They looked at each other and laughed.

“Is your father also a vampire?” Tony asked.

“Yes, of course,” the vampire said. “What did you think?”

“And your mother too?”

“Of course. And my sister and my brother and my grandmother and my grandfather and my aunt and my uncle…”

“Yikes,” cried Tony. “Your whole family?”

“My whole family,” confirmed the vampire proudly.

“My family is normal,” said Tony sadly. “My father works in an office, my mother’s a teacher, I have no brothers or sisters—can you imagine how boring things are around here?”

The vampire looked at him with pity. “With my family there’s always something going on.”

“Like what? Tell me!” Tony said excitedly. At last he was going to hear a real vampire story!

“All right,” whispered the vampire, sitting down next to Tony on the bed. “It was last winter. Do you remember how cold it was? Well, we were just waking up. That horrible sun had just set. I was really hungry and tried to lift the lid of my coffin up, but it wouldn’t budge. I banged my fists against it, then pushed hard against it with my feet—nothing. I could hear my family members in their graves doing the same thing. And can you believe it, the ground was totally frozen. We couldn’t open our coffins for two nights in a row! But finally things started to thaw, and we put all the strength we had left into pushing the coffin lids open, and they finally gave way. We could have starved to death! But that’s nothing compared to the story about the new cemetery caretaker. Do you want to hear that one?”

“Of course!”

The vampire started with a whisper. “It was on a dark—” Then he suddenly stopped. “Did you hear that?” he whispered.

“Yeah,” said Tony. A car pulled up the road and stopped, and two car doors slammed. “It’s probably my parents!” cried Tony. In one leap the vampire was up on the windowsill.

“What about my book?” asked Tony. “When…?”

But the vampire had already spread his cape and was gliding away, a dark shadow against the bright crescent moon.

Tony quickly pulled the curtain closed and jumped into bed. He heard the apartment door open and his father say to his mother, “There. You see, honey. It’s all quiet.” And seconds later Tony was fast asleep.

About The Author

Burghardt Bodenburg

Angela Sommer-Bodenburg is the author of several fantasy books for children. Her most famous contribution to the field of children’s fantasy is The Little Vampire series which has sold over 10 million copies and has been translated into over thirty languages. Sommer-Bodenburg states that her “vampire is not a bloodthirsty monster, however, but an affectionate little vampire with fears and foibles who will perhaps help free children of their own fears.” The novel, written in 1979, spawned a series of books, and the plot has been adapted to theater, radio, cinema, and television. A Canadian German TV series was released in 1986 and a film version, directed by Uli Edel was released in 2000.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Aladdin (October 25, 2022)
  • Length: 192 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534494077
  • Grades: 3 - 7
  • Ages: 8 - 12
  • Lexile ® 550L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®
  • Fountas & Pinnell™ T These books have been officially leveled by using the F&P Text Level Gradient™ Leveling System

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