Fanged characters have sunk their teeth - sorry about that - into the adult and young adult book markets, so is it really a surprise to find a new children's book called "Dick and Jane and Vampires"?

The original "Dick and Jane" series dates to the 1930s, when educators Zerna Sharp and William S. Gray were looking for a way to help young children develop their reading skills.

Now, Laura Marchesani and illustrator Tommy Hunt have teamed to continue the pair's adventures, featuring a smiling bloodsucker who just wants to make friends and encounters the children in daffy situations.

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It might be hard to believe, but this vampire is a little shy.

He approaches Dick and Jane cautiously: In the book's first stories, he appears only as a bat that wrecks a hanging mobile and drives Puff, their pet cat, bonkers.

Soon, however, the vampire is following this cherubic pair and their parents around town in his stylish cape. Before long, he becomes an accepted playmate, even squeezing into a stroller so Jane can pretend he's her baby.

Hunt's art captures the style of the original series illustrations dead-on.

Marchesani's sentences, stripped to basic subject and predicate, are sometimes a little unexpectedly chilling: "No, Sally! Do not go outside. There is something outside."

But don't worry - the story never turns deadly. Why not? Because the vampire gets a girlfriend! And that means the vampire is happy.

'Dick and Jane and Vampires'

By Laura Marchesani and Illustrator Tommy Hunt

Grosset & Dunlap


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