juvenile literature:see children's literaturechildren's literature,
writing whose primary audience is children.
See also children's book illustration. The Beginnings of Children's Literature
The earliest of what came to be regarded as children's literature was first meant for adults.
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Juvenile Literature(pop culture)
Vampire fiction was exclusively an adult literature until the appearance of horror comic books in the 1940s. In the wake of the controversy over the hypothesized harmful content of comic books in the 1950s (which had the effect of banishing the vampire from their pages for two decades), there was no support for expanding the scope of juvenile literature in general by the inclusion of vampire stories.
The ban on vampires in comic books began to be lifted in the late 1960s with the appearance of Dark Shadows and Vampirella, and was done away with completely in 1971. That same year, the first novel written specifically for young people that included a vampire theme was published. Danger on Vampire Trail was No. 50 in the very popular Hardy Boys series of mystery books. The youthful detectives were tracking some credit card thieves, whom they traced to a remote location called Vampire Trail. The site recently had been renamed following reported attacks by bats, and on an exploration of the trail the Hardys found a dead vampire bat, seemingly far away from his natural habitat. However, in the end, they found no vampires, and the bat turned out to have been imported from Central America simply to scare locals away from the crooks’ hideout.
The 1970s: The real introduction of the juvenile audience to the subject came in 1973 with the publication of Nancy Garden‘s nonfiction Vampires. Based in large part on two books by Montague Summers and the research of Radu Florescu and Raymond T. McNally, Garden presented a broad survey of vampire lore, the literary and cinematic vampire, and the real Dracula, Vlad the Impaler. The obvious popularity of the vampire during the decade prompted two similar nonfiction vampire books by Thomas Aylesworth and the Ronans. That same year, the first juvenile vampire novel, Vic Crume’s The Mystery of Vampire Castle, a novelization of the Walt Disney movie of the same name, concerned a 12-year-old amateur movie producer-director Alfie Booth, who had decided to spend his summer making a Dracula movie. In the process, Alfie and his brother ran into several jewelry thieves whose eventual detection and capture supplied the real drama of the movie. It was not until the last half of the decade that the initial real bloodsucking vampires made their appearance. Among books aimed at a high school audience, evil vampires bared their teeth in Steven Otfinoski’s Village of Vampires (1978). The novel’s hero, Dr. John Lawrence, his daughter Sandy, and assistant Paul Ross had journeyed to the village of Taaxacola, Mexico, where cows had begun to die of a strange malady. Several years before, Lawrence had been in the village to administer a serum to the cattle, which had been under attack from vampire bats. Upon his return, however, he discovered that the entire village now had been turned into vampires. It became the Lawrence party’s task to kill them in the traditional manner (stake through the heart). In the end, the men had to rescue Sandy as she also was about to be made into a vampire. In Kin Platt’s Dracula Go Home!, a 1979 comic novel, Larry Carter, a high schooler working at his aunt’s hotel during summer vacation, checked a Mr. A. L. R. Claud from Belgrade into a room. The man was pale and wore a black suit with a large hat. He asked for room 13. Larry was sure that Mr. Claud was a vampire and set out to find the proof. In the end, he was found not to be a vampire but a jewel thief who had returned to town to recover stolen merchandise.
For the younger audience still in elementary school, a more benign vampire strolled across the pages of a host of books. For example, in 1979 Deborah Howe and her husband James Howe introduced possibly the most lovable vampire of all time, the vegetarian vampire rabbit Bunnicula. Bunnicula, who was given his name after having been found in the theater during a Dracula movie, was the pet of Pete and Toby Monroe. The rabbit was the third animal in a home that included Harold the dog and Chester the cat. Bunnicula was a strange rabbit; he slept all day and, instead of two bunny teeth in front, he had two fangs.
It was Chester who first spotted the rabbit leaving his cage at night to raid the refrigerator. The next morning the Monroes discovered a white tomato from which all the juice and color (and life) had been sucked. It was the knowledgeable Chester, who spent all of his spare time reading books, who was the first to determine that Bunnicula was a vampire. Having made his discovery, Chester proceeded to block Bunnicula’s path to the kitchen with a garlic barrier. Bunnicula almost starved until Harold, concluding that Bunnicula was causing no harm, intervened and smuggled him into the kitchen.
Bunnicula proved as popular as he was lovable, and his story was made into a movie for children’s television. Through the 1980s he returned in a series of stories, beginning with the 1983 volume, The Celery Stalks at Midnight. For the youngest audience, a vampire literature developed out of the popular televison show Sesame Street, one of the most heralded products of the Public Broadcasting Network. The show specialized in the socialization of preschool children and the teaching of basic knowledge such as the alphabet and numbers. Soon after the show began, the teaching of numbers became the special domain of Count von Count, a puppet version of a Bela Lugosi—like vampire complete with widow’s peak and fangs. Through the 1970s, the Count made such tapes as The Count Counts (1975) and was the subject of several books, including The Counting Book (1971), The Count’s Poem (1976), The Day the Count Stopped Counting (1977), and The Count’s Number Parade (1977).
The 1980s: The 1980s saw the development of a full range of vampire literature for all ages. Literature for the youngest children was launched with the continuing volumes featuring Count von Count of Sesame Street. He began the decade with The Count’s Counting Book (1980). When the book’s cover was opened, the Count and his castle popped up to say, “Aha! Another wonderful day to count on.” He then counted various things in his atmospheric neighborhood. In 1981 he followed with The Count Counts a Party and other items through the decade. For elementary school young people, several popular vampire series joined the Bunnicula titles. In 1982 the first volume of Ann Jungman’s series featuring Vlad the Drac, another vegetarian vampire, appeared.
That same year in Germany, Angela Sommer-Bodenburg published the first of her four books featuring the young vampire Rudolph Sackville-Bagg, Rudolph’s vampire sister Anna, and their human friend Tony Noodleman. These were promptly translated into English and published in the United States as My Friend the Vampire, The Vampire Moves In, The Vampire on the Farm, and The Vampire Takes a Trip. Typical of children’s literature, the vampire was a somewhat sympathetic character, at worst a mischievous boy, with the primary elements of horror hovering in the background. The Vampire Moves In, for instance, revolved around Rudolph’s move into the family storage bin in the basement of the apartment building where Tony’s family lived. He had been kicked out of his own family vault because of his fraternizing with humans. The plot centered on the problems created by the vampire’s presence, not the least of which was the terrible smell that began to radiate from the vampire’s coffin and the presence of the undead.
A third series that began later in the decade by author Mel Gilden featured the “fifth grade monsters.” In the opening volume, M Is for Monster, Danny Keegan began a new school year as a fifth grader. His major problem was bully Stevie Brickwald. However, when he got to school he discovered four new classmates. One possessed a huge mane of hair and slightly pointed ears. His name was Howie Wolfner. A brother and sister team by the name Elsie and Frankie Stein each had metal bolts coming out of the side of their necks. Finally there was the short, fanged kid with slicked–back hair, a black suit, white bow tie, and a satin-lined cape. His name was C. D. Bitesky, whose family came from Transylvania. C. D. carried a Thermos bottle from which he frequently sipped a red liquid that he termed the “fluid of life,” and he had a pet bat named Spike.
After an initial hesitancy, Danny became friends with these different but nonetheless special people, and within a few years their adventures would fill 15 volumes with no end in sight. C. D. was especially featured in volume 10, How to be a Vampire in One Easy Lesson (1990), in which the persistent Stevie Brickwald tried to make friends with the “monsters” and asked C.D. to make him a vampire. C. D. first invited him to his home where his parents started to teach Stevie Romanian history. The impatient Stevie learned that he must meet the Count, C. D.’s patriarchal uncle, who lived in the basement of the local theater, appropriately named Carfax Palace. When Stevie appeared at school the next day dressed in a crumpled tuxedo, following his private session with the Count, he announced that he was a “freelance vampire first class.” However, Stevie wished to use his newfound “will” to keep him from having to go to school, but his teacher and the principal finally persuaded him that he was not a vampire.
The final series aimed at elementary school young people to appear in the 1980s was written by Ann Hodgman. Her first volume, There’s a Batwing in My Lunchbox, was published by Avon in 1988. The young people’s vampire, while borrowing from the more traditional character of horror fiction, to some extent had his (and it has almost exclusively been a male) fangs pulled. He was a good person—definitely not the sinister figure of the adult novels or the movies. Absent from the youthful vampire book was any hint of horror, any factor that might lead to the young reader having nightmares. He was never pictured as biting anyone, though there were oblique references, and of course, no harm resulted from a vegetarian like Bunnicula biting a plant. Placed within the context of the young person’s world, the vampire was either a lovable pet, a comic figure, or more likely, a somewhat out-of-the-ordinary classmate who can become, in spite of his differences, a close friend.
As the number of titles for elementary school children expanded, so did the number aimed at high schoolers. Typical of these was The Initiation by Robert Brunn (1982). The story concerned Adam Maxwell, a student at Blair Prep School. Adam had a problem—he was a misfit. He was totally unappreciative of the elitism and snobbery so evident among both his classmates and the students of nearby Abbott, a girls school similar to Blair. Both were founded by a Transylvanian couple, Isadore and Bella Esterhaus. Adam soon met his counterpart at Abbott, Loren Winters. Four days after his arrival to the school, Adam found a body in one of the school lockers. Loren had witnessed one of her classmates leaving campus with a man who was reported dead the next day.
Together Adam and Loren attempted to figure out the situation they were in. The focus of their search led to an initiation ceremony that occurred during the biweekly mixers promoted by the two schools. Selected students were invited to the basement to be inducted into “a serious organization.” Blindfolded and paired with an initiator of the opposite sex, they were attacked in the dark, and all that could be heard was a “wet slurping noise.” In the 1970s, the vampire had received some recognition from the new respect given to classic horror and gothic fiction within the academic community—a respect reflected in the addition of such stories to elementary and high school curricula. By the 1980s Bram Stoker‘s Dracula (1897) was recognized as such a classic piece of horror literature, and condensed versions of Dracula designed for a juvenile audience began to appear.
In the early 1970s, a black-and-white comic version of Dracula (1973) became the first juvenile adaptation of the story, and a version for children had been published in 1976 as Paint Me the Story of Dracula. Then, at the beginning of the decade, Delacote Press released Alice and Joel Schick’s color comic book version of Dracula. Several years later, Stephanie Spinner and illustrator Jim Spence prepared a condensed version, often reprinted, for elementary schoolers. In addition, a juvenile version of John Polidori‘s original vampire story, “The Vampyre”, appeared in England in 1986.
The 1990s: Through the 1980s, the production rate of new vampire-oriented juvenile literature had steadily increased. That increase did not stop in the early 1990s. In the 1980s, some 50 titles were published. In the three years of 1990 to 1992, over 35 titles appeared. Series begun in the 1980s by Mel Gilden, Ann Hodgman, and James Howe continued, and a new series for high schoolers, The Vampire Diaries by L. J. Smith, explored the triangle of the vampire brothers Damon and Stefan, and the girl Elena whom they both desired and who must decide between them. For the youngest vampire fans, a pop-up version of Dracula was published by Gallery Books in 1990. Preschoolers could start their learning process with Alan Benjamin’s Let’s Count, Dracula (1991).
During the 1980s two vampire stories were included in the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series. A third such vampire volume, Vampire Invaders by Edward Packard, appeared as No. 118 in the series in 1991. Additionally, several general juvenile horror series added a vampire novel. Carl Laymon’s Nightmare Lake, for example, appeared as No. 11 in Dell’s Twilight series. Bert, Eliot, and his sister Sammi on an island vacation, discovered a skeleton after which their dog removed a stick protruding from its rib cage. The children reported their discovery to the police, but upon their return to the island, the skeleton had disappeared. The mystery increased when two bodies were found in a canoe. One had a bloody wound on his neck and, as was later determined, had died from loss of blood. The other person awoke in a state of near hysteria and complained of an attack by a bat. The emergence of vampire believers and skeptics set the stage for the final revelation of the true vampire in their midst.
Among the outstanding new novels was Annette Curtis Klause’s The Silver Kiss, centered upon the experience of Zoë, a young girl with a fatally ill mother and an emotionally distant father, who tried to protect her from the reality of death. Her loneliness opened her to a relationship with Simon, a vampire. Simon had grown up in Cromwellian England. A business acquaintance of his father introduced vampirism to the family and chose Simon’s older brother Christopher as his first victim. Christopher disappeared for many years, but at one point returned to attack his brother Simon, now a young man, and to transform him into a vampire. He also learned that Christopher had killed their mother. Simon was determined to hunt down and kill his brother.
That drive had brought him to America in the 1930s. Meanwhile, between her seemingly immortal friend who was ready for a final encounter with his brother and her dying mother, Zoë overcame her father’s protecting her from the reality of death and arrived at some understanding of its role in life. Of a lighter nature was Great Uncle Dracula by Jayne Harvey, a modern-day parable for children who feel they just do not fit in. It was the story of Emily Normal, a third grader who moved with her father and brother from Plainville to Transylvania, U.S.A., to live with her uncle. Soon after she arrived for her first day at school, she realized that Transylvania was a creepy place: all the girls dressed in black and claimed to be witches; the class pets were tarantulas; her teacher’s name was Ms. Vampira and the principal was Frank N. Stein. Emily just did not fit in. She had always done well as a speller, but the “spell”-ing bee did not concern “spelling” words but doing magic “spells.” She did make friends, however, and soon found herself at a party. But the party turned into a disaster when Emily fell on the birthday cake while playing pin the tail on the rat. Emily finally got her chance, however, in the gross face contest. Angry at being called names since her arrival at school, she won the contest by the face she made just as she shouted out, “I am not a weirdo.” She was awarded the prize for making the grossest face anyone in Transylvania could remember.
Through the 1990s and the first decade of the new century, vampire story books for children and novels for youth proliferated. For the youngest, the most prominent books featured Mona the Vampire (by Hiawyn Oram and Sonia Hollyman), later to become an animated television program. Young readers could get into the Monster Manor series by Paul Martin and Manu Boisteau or My Sister the Vampire by Sienna Mercer. Slightly older readers could find the Vampirates series by Justin Somper, the Vampire Plagues series by Sebastian Rooke, and the Vampire Beach series by Alex Duvall.
Richie Tankersley Cusack’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), the novelization of the movie, heralded the series of Buffy novels that would begin to appear after the television show, originally pitched at a high school audience but found a much broader appeal. At its height in the middle of the next decade, more than fifteen Buffy novels, some completely new stories, some novelizations of episode screenplays, were appearing.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer identified a youth market for vampire novels and a number of authors responded to it. As the new century began, several series written for a junior high school and high school readership shared the spotlight with Buffy in the juvenile vampire market. Leading off the decade was Amelia Atwatter-Rhodes whose In the Forests of the Night (1999) was the first of a half dozen books built around vampires and associated creatures. Among the most successful of the new vampire authors was Darren O’Shaughnessy who wrote the Cirque Du Freak series under the pen name Darren Shan. His dozen novels traced the adventures of a young Darren Shan who must adjust to life as a half-vampire.
High school vampire fans could assuage their thirst with the House of Night series of mother/daughter team PC and Kristin Cast, the Vampire Kisses series by Ellen Schreiber, The Vampire Academy series of Richelle Meade, the Bloodline series by Katy Cary, the Lords of Darkness series by L. G. Burbank, or the Morganville Vampires series of Rachel Caine.
By far the most successful post-Buffy vampire books were the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer which trace the story of a high school girl, Bella Swan, who by her own definition was clumsy and lacked self assurance in the extreme. She meets the love of her life, a vampire classmate, Edward Cullen. Twilight was made into the largest grossing vampire movie of all time and was followed by its equally successful sequel New Moon, with plans to make movies of the remaining volumes in the book series as this encyclopedia goes to press.
Among the notable fallouts of the success of the Twilight series was the revival of the 1990s’ Vampire Diaries series by Laura Smith.