Review By JESSICA ALMY
Ready for a quirky, silly, veggie read? Then dig your fangs, I mean teeth, into J.otto Seibold and Siobhan Vivian’s picture book Vunce Upon a Time, starring a gentle soul named Dagmar who just so happens to be a vegetarian and a vampire.
When we borrowed this Halloween-themed book from the library, my daughter cracked up at the images of Dagmar eating carrots and tending his garden, but was quick to inform me that the book is not really about being a vegetarian — it’s about friendship. Fair enough, but the entire reason that Dagmar develops a friendship with a little girl is because a) he doesn’t hunt like other vampires, b) he grows vegetables more slowly than he eats them, and c) he supplements his diet with a secret candy stash that’s running low.
Veg parents might not appreciate Dagmar’s focus on junk food, and veg kids might be quick to point out that real gummy worms are made with gelatin (which is not vegetarian). Still, most vegetarians will enjoy this humorous book.
Jenn Kali // Oct 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm
Thanks for this review. My 3.5 year old daughter is pretty scared of all things Halloween so we picked this up to help soften monsters and Halloweenn for her.
Personally, I don’t think it’s the best story. It rambles and doesn’t follow much of a story line, but it seems to work for her. She often asks me to tell her the story of the vegetarian vampire even when we’re not reading the book. It seems to be helping with her fears as when something monster-y occurs, as is happening more frequently as we approach Halloween, we can just pretend that monster is one of Dagmar’s friends, and thus it must be a nice monster.
While I don’t love the story, I do love the illustrations. The art is just beautiful, and there are so many details. I love the picture of the town on Halloween night with everyone out trick-or-treating.
Also, I really appreciate that the word vegetarian is used. Often books imply a vegetarian character, but it’s rare to actually have a book that defines someone as vegetarian. And he’s a vegetarian because he’s a “gentle soul”. Nice description of why someone would choose to be a vegetarian.
Nice addition to our library. Thanks for letting us know about it.