Glory on Ice: A Vampire Hockey Story

Knopf. Oct. 2020. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524714512.
PreS-Gr 2–This unexpectedly delightful yarn combines vampires, hockey, and teamwork in a uniquely effective fashion. Vampire Vlad’s 800-year existence has become dull, so he visits the local community center (umbrella shading his blue-tinged face) to find a new activity. After sampling several activities, he overhears some children saying they will “crush” and “destroy” their hockey opponents, and instantly registers. He buys gear and learns about hockey, but upon arrival discovers becoming a hockey player is a lot of work. Nevertheless he forges on, becomes a passable (and aggressive) player and full member of the team, filling him with true happiness. The story is tongue-in-cheek, with clever nods to his vampiric nature (the store-clerk who gives him “prompt” service is clearly terrified) and the writing is tight, well-paced, and humorous. Impressively, messages about hard work, teamwork, and friendship are woven into the story without ever feeling didactic, perhaps due to the absurd premise. The cartoon-style artwork is entertaining, mixing full-bleed spreads with spot art to create effective page turns and visual storytelling. Fearing inserts clever details such as cameos from Vlad’s expressive cat and an iPhone photo in which only Vlad’s gear appears. Vlad’s team is portrayed as multicultural, including several skin tones and a girl with a red ponytail, although their opponents (who do win) are all large and white.
VERDICT Libraries in need of vampire books and/or hockey books need look no further than this briskly funny offering that effectively tucks a lesson under its helmet.

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