I am Vampyre.
I live in darkness.
I long for light.
Vampyre lives in darkness, feared and despised. As a child he was free to play and swim in the moonlight, where he befriended the birds and the deer. Now he is fully grown, expected to embrace his role, to attack and to kill. But instead he longs for the light. Finally, he waits for midday and runs away from his family, weeping as he emerges. His old friends, the deer and the birds, welcome him.
Vampyreis an extraordinary picture book for older readers. Whilst it is about a Vampyre, this is not a cloak wearing, coffin-dwelling stereotypical vampire, and is well removed from the modern vampire stories pitched at teens in recent years. Instead, the narrator is a fairly normal looking young teen, with pale hair and skin (he is a creature of the night and must stay out of the light), and with small fangs visible in only a few illustrations. Far from being frightening or intimidating he looks like any lost and confused youngster. And this is the point of the tale – Vampyre could just as well be a teen pressured to conform on issues of sexuality, or career choice, or religion, as a child pressured to live the life of a vampyre. he wants something different than those around him, and his parents – especially his father – struggle to accept that.
Wild’s text tells the tale without trying to moralise or convince. The issue is there for the reader to explore. Illustrator Yeo does a brilliant job of using shadow and minimal light to bring to life a story which is necessarily dark-hued. The final spread, with Vampyre huddled in the morning frost, makes wonderful use of light, with golden sunlight breaking through the trees suggesting hope.
In a classroom setting Vampyrewould offer much fodder for discussion, but individuals will also be moved by it.
Vampyre, by Margaret Wild & Andrew Yeo
Walker Books, 2011
This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.