Written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Illustrated by Howard Fine
On the farm, the critters knew, At night, while they were sleeping, Past barn and pens Past lambs and hens A HAMPIRE went out creeping.
Eek! It’s a: Vampire pig!
Duck finds himself craving a midnight snack and waddles into the farmhouse to get himself some food, even though he and the other animals are afraid of the Hampire, who stalks their barnyard at night, leaving red droplets on the leaves. On his way back to the barn, he spies the shadow of Hampire and panics. He gathers his friends, the chicken and horse, and they manage to stay a step ahead of Hampire, finally taking refuge in the abandoned shed. The Hampire starts beating on the door and the friends fear the worst when the door breaks down and the Hampire charges them. But, as it turns out, he was only coming for the food on Duck’s plate, as he is a strict vegetarian. As the book ends, they are all enjoying a snack together and toasting their new friend.
This is a classic misunderstanding story that is very well told through rhyming verse. As you can see from the opening lines, the rhymes have a wonderful rhythm that’s very easy to read. Author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen adds to the fun with the inclusion of idioms being used in comic circumstances (such as the duck referring to the group as ‘sitting ducks’). The book has excellent pacing and the sense of danger continues to heighten as the story moves along.
Illustrator Howard Fine ups the ante with beautiful artwork that is alternately suspenseful and funny. Hampire is a pretty intimidating looking character, but the sight of the duck running away while still holding his plate of doughnuts is pretty funny. Once you’ve finished the story and know that the animals are never in any real peril, the expressions of fear on their faces (particularly the horse) come across as really amusing on subsequent re-reads.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that you need to get all the facts before you react.