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Cute suspense tale with twist; great Halloween read-aloud.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can learn what a vegetarian is.  

Positive messages

Sometimes we get scared of things we imagine are scarier than they really are. The barnyard animals are terrified of the Hampire (a pig in what looks like a Dracula cloak), because they assume he wants to eat them, but it turns out he's a friendly vegetarian who likes jelly donuts. They all become friends in the end. 

Positive role models

Duck is brave -- and hungry -- so he leaves the barn to get a midnight snack even though he knows it's risky with the Hampire possibly lurking outside. Duck's friends Chicken and Pony come to his rescue and hide with him so he'll feel safe. 

Violence & scariness

The lead-up to the animals' face-to-face encounter with the Hampire is effectively suspenseful, but comic elements mixed in with the dread and tension mitigate any real sense of anxiety. The Hampire does knock down the door to the shed where the animals are hiding. 

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this lighthearted tale of suspense, told in verse, plays off kids' natural fear of vampires and anything spooky after dark. But the climactic twist is funny and reassuring. Knowing what a vegetarian is will help kids get the joke.  

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What's the story?

A duck sneaks out of the barn for a midnight snack, but after he raids the farmer's fridge and tiptoes out with his platter of jelly donuts, he realizes he's being pursued by the dreaded Hampire -- a giant pig in a Dracula-like cloak, rumored to lurk on the farm at night. (The animals have found red drips on the grass, believed to have dripped off the Hampire's fangs.) Duck flees to the shed, aided by barnyard friends Pony and Chicken. “The Hampire’s on our tail!” Duck cried./ “Our goose is cooked indeed!”/ The trio shrieked,/ And when Duck peeked,/ The swine was gaining speed.” Suspense builds before and during the chase, then the Hampire blasts thought the shed where they’re hiding and devours the donuts. Turns out he had no intention of eating the animals -- he’s a vegetarian -- and the \"blood\" drips they'd seen were jelly.

Is it any good?


This delightful story in verse is effectively suspenseful but not truly scary. The rhymes are fresh and clever and move the action along, making it a perfect read-aloud book. The evocative illustrations are a great combination of dread and excitement, comedy and camaraderie. Pictures of Duck fleeing from the farmer's kitchen across the barnyard, through the chicken coop, and atop Pony to the shed while carrying a platter full of teetering stacks of donuts keep things exciting but light in tone. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what vampires are, and why people -- and barnyard animals -- would be afraid of them. Why are vampires associated with Halloween? Are they real or just imaginary? 

  • The twist is that the Hampire is a vegetarian. What does that mean? What did the animals mistake for drops of blood on the grass? 

Book details

Author:Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:July 26, 2011
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 8

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