A Taste for Red

Common Sense Media says

Creepy, funny vampire mystery is a page-turner.





What parents need to know

Educational value

A couple of mentions of Sun Tzu's Art of War could lead to further exploration.

Positive messages

The importance of doing the right thing.

Positive role models

Svetlana has a sense of superiority and is a bit snarky in the beginning, but not directly to others. She and her classmates are good, funny kids. The adults in the story are supportive, especially Ms. Bones, who takes Svetlana under her wing to develop her gift.


Three girls are kidnapped for the purpose of drinking their blood. A mention of a teacher found murdered. A child falls out of a window and breaks his arm. Svetlana is almost poisoned and she is almost run over by a van. Svetlana and her friends try to kill a vampire, but there is no gore.

Not applicable
Not applicable
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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this vampire read for middle graders is pretty mild for the genre. The violence is gore-free: a kidnapping, an almost-poisoning, someone falls out a window and breaks his arm, and an attempt to kill a vampire.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Svetlana Grimm is a new student at Sunny Hill middle school. Previously homeschooled, she finds herself in 6th grade where the classes are boring and the kids are friendly -- which is unfortunate because she wants to be a loner. She believes she is a vampire and soon finds herself involved in a mystery along with her neighbor, Ms. Bones, and her science teacher, Ms. Larch. When three of her classmates disappear and she discovers her true gift, she has to grow up quickly and figure out a way to help.

Is it any good?


A TASTE FOR RED is a very quick, entertaining read. The mystery goes along at a good pace and kids will be excited to see how it all turns out. Creepy and funny, Svetlana's Sunny Hill middle school will remind readers of Buffy Summers' Sunnydale high school. It's always great to see a female protagonist and Svetlana doesn't let us down.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about making new friends. Why did Svetlana start out rejecting her classmates' attempts at friendship?

  • Svetlana said, "I remember reading somwehere that the things you find to criticize in others are really the things you wish to improve in yourself." Do you think that's true? Have you ever had that experience?

Book details

Author:Lewis Harris
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Clarion Books
Publication date:June 15, 2009
Number of pages:176
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Read aloud:9
Read alone:10

This review of A Taste for Red was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 7 and 13 year old Written byTampaBookWorm December 4, 2009

Wonderful Book! Perfect for Tweens!

This book was not what I was expecting. The author introduces a new take on vampires and supernatural creatures which I found interesting and refreshing. The writing is lively and fun, and there is nothing inappropriate for tweens. I hope another book is in the works because this one left me wanting more!
Kid, 12 years old October 11, 2011

You Wouldn't Believe

I enjoyed reading this book 2 years back when I was 10. Slight gore, but not something the weak hearted couldn't handle. I like it because it doesn't give itself away too easily, like most books. Until near the end, you don't know what's going to happen next, so you just can't stop reading. Then when it reveals itself, you keep reading to make sure you thought correctly about the ending! I love it!
Parent of a 11 year old Written bythecoolaunt November 2, 2010

Great for Tweens

I have an 11 yr old niece, and we started our own little book club. This book was perfect for us! She's always trying to read books that are just a little too old for her (Twilight Saga). This book not only has appropriate subject manner for her age, but also vocabulary. There were a few times where the author made a point of giving a simple definitions of some words I knew she wouldn't know.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages


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