Vunce Upon a TimeHow do you write a children’s picture book starring a vampire? Make him vegetarian, of course! Then you get rid of all the gruesome blood-sucking related stigmas and are left with a coffin-sleeping, night-time waking, bat-transforming, garlic-fearing creature who only likes to eat vegetables. And candy…

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In Vunce Upon a Time (by J. Otto Seibold & Siobhan Vivian), Dagmar is a vegetarian vampire in search of candy. While he struggles with insecurity and fear of the unknown, he braves the outside world on the night of Halloween and trick-or-treats with a new friend whom he thinks is a ghost. Eventually, he realizes that the ghost is only a human dressed in costume – but not a scary human, one who wants to befriend the little vamp.

The drawings are spectacular, and not the least bit scary for the youngsters, but has hints of spookiness that can be picked out by older kids and adults.

Many are familiar with the works of J. Otto Seibold (who often works with Vivian Walsh), creator of Olive, the Other Reindeer (which was turned into a made-for-tv Christmas special starring the voice of Drew Barrymore in 1999). This is Siobhan (pronounced SHOVE-ON) Vivian’s only foray into picture book writing, but she has written several teen novels. When watching Leap Frog’s Letter Factory, I happened to see her name fly by on the credits, as well, which I thought was kind of cool.

Vunce Upon a Time has since spurred on the creation of a counting board book starring Dagmar (Count, Dagmar!), which I haven’t read.