Vunce Upon a Time

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Vunce Upon a Time Book Poster Image
Vegetarian vampire gives Halloween a silly twist.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Dagmar has a temper tantrum and flies away from his parents, but he does come back. Later he and a little girl become friends and help each other out.

Violence & Scariness

The vampire main character is kind and cute, not scary. He has a temper tantrum and turns himself into a bat.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this unique vampire tale contains nothing scarier than Dagmar's temper tantrum. The clever twists in the story, for example when the vampire tries to come up with a scary costume, create a silly but engaging story, and the rich illustrations capture the fun.

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What's the story?

Dagmar has a sweet tooth! Not to mention the fact that he is a vegetarian vampire. Generally he just hangs around the castle eating vegetables and the candy his friends deliver to him. But then his stash runs out, and he is forced to try something he has never done before: find a scary costume and go out into the human world to trick-or-treat for some more. Luckily he finds a ghost (that is, a little girl dressed as a ghost) to help him out. As kids do, they pal around together all evening, not really knowing the true identity of the other. In the end, Dagmar comes home with more than a cape full of candy.

Is it any good?

This is a clever book with unusual twists thrown in here and there that make it fun to read; a perfect Halloween story for readers of any age. The lessons learned are ones about being brave and finding friends in unusual places. And the illustrations are remarkable. Anyone familiar with Olive, the Other Reindeer will recognize Seibold's touch, though his artwork here is swirlier and bolder, with backgrounds as rich as deep red velvet and scenes as exciting as any Halloween adventure.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about vampires, vegetarians, and Halloween traditions. Why is it amazing that Dagmar is a vegetarian? What would that mean? Why was it so hard for him to come up with a scary costume? What kind of costumes do you think are scary? Why did he think dressing up as garlic would be a good choice? Why didn't his parents want him to go out? What did you think when he turned into a bat, and flew away on his own? What did he think when the ghost took off her costume? Why did Dagmar run away?

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