About the Holiday
Bats are popular during the Halloween month of October for many reasons—they fly out of caves and nooks and crannies at night, they look kind of spooky, and they have that cool association with Dracula and other vampires. With over 1,300 species of bats around the world, however, these small fliers play a vital role in the welfare of our planet. Some bats are important for insect control, while others are pollinators and still others disperse seed. Unfortunately, bats have been in the news in the past few years for their declining numbers due to habitat destruction, disease, and hunting. Today’s holiday promotes awareness of the value of bats and urges people to help protect them.
Elsie Clarke and the Vampire Hairdresser
By Ged Adamson
“Elsie Clarke was a brave little girl”…until she had to get her hair cut. Whenever her tresses reached a certain point and it was time for that appointment, “she would scream in her horriblest, loudest voice ‘Hairdressers are scary!’ I’m never going again! EVER!’” But Elsie’s dad thinks she might like his barber. Boris Lazzario, Hairdresser of Quality reads the business card he hands her.
The card piques Elsie’s curiosity, so she heads down to 110 Turning Lane. She enters the door to find a very unusual looking boy rushing toward her. He has a comb in one hand and a scissor in the other, and his delighted smile reveals two sharp fangs. “‘A customer! Come in! Come in!’ he exclaims. “Boris Lazzario at your service!’” Before Elsie knows it, Boris has taken her hand and is showing her to his chair, while his cat, a ghostly Jasper, leads the way.
Before Boris can look at Elsie’s hair, however, she tells him that she is afraid of haircuts. Boris has heard it before. He shows Elsie a portrait of his father, Count Lazzario. “‘Everyone’s terrified of him,’” Boris explains, but “‘he’s scared of haircuts, just like you.’” He plays an old movie for Elsie, revealing that his dad wanted him to be a “proper vampire.” To escape this life, Boris tells Elsie, he ran away and is sure his dad is glad that he did.
Just then the door flies open and the house rings with a “blood-curdling HOWL!” It’s Count Lazzario—not looking very glad at all. The Count chases Elsie and Boris upstairs and downstairs, all the while shouting “‘My son a hairdresser! Oh, the shame of it! You’re a disgrace to vampire kind!’” Finally, Elsie has had enough. She stops and pointedly tells the Count in her “horriblest, loudest voice that he should be proud of his son. “‘He’s not a monster like you,’” she shouts.
The Count breaks down in tears. “‘I just wish Boris did something that wasn’t so scary,’” he wails. Suddenly Elsie sees how silly it is to be afraid of a haircut. She musters her courage, reassures the Count, and tells Boris he has two customers. Boris shampoos, rinses, and cuts. While Elsie and the Count sit under the hairdryer, they read magazines while enjoying tea and chocolate cookies.
When the two see their new ‘dos they can’t believe their eyes. The Count proclaims his a “triumph,” and Elsie thinks hers is “‘the coolest, most amazing hairstyle in the world!’” As Elsie turns to go, the Count thanks her. He realizes how ridiculous he’s been and even thinks he may “start a new career as a model.” Elsie gives a final wave before heading home to show her mom and dad not only her new haircut but how very brave she really is.
There’s a wonderful free-range silliness to Ged Adamson’s books that brings a smile to your face as you read them. The great thing is that they are based on a kernel of truth, which anchors the story and gives it broader resonance. In the case of Elsie Clarke and the Vampire Hairdresser it’s a fear of haircuts—a scenario I know well from my own son who for a time received his cuts from a very understanding woman who sat with him on the salon’s play rug while she cut his hair. Adamson’s knack with humorous and believable dialogue paired with laugh-inducing action makes the story a page-turner with the kind of suspense that keeps kids giggling from the first page to the satisfying last.
Adamson’s lush illustrations, in a palette of purples, pinks, yellows, and greens, set on backgrounds of plaid tweed, herringbone, denim and other fabrics as well as ornate Victorian wallpapers, offer all the spooky details readers could want from a vampire’s hair salon. Kids will marvel at the old film projector, and the black-and-white home movie of Boris and his dad is a clever touch. Readers will root for cute Elsie and Boris, and have a change of heart when the tyrant Count tears up.
For those times when a fear needs to be overcome—or for any story time—Elsie Clark and the Vampire Hairdresser is monstrous fun and would be an amusing addition to home libraries that kids will really sink their teeth into.
Ages 4 – 8
Sky Pony Press, 2013 | ISBN 978-1620879832
Discover more about Ged Adamson and his books on his website!
This Elsie and the Vampire Hairdresser book trailer is shear fun!
Bat Appreciation Month Activity
I Vant to Eat These Treats! Vampire Goodie Box
Would you like your gift of homemade or store-bought cookies, candy, or other treats to have a little bite to it? Deliver them in this vampire box you can make yourself!
- Recycled pasta box (or any box with a cellophane window in it)
- Black Paint
- Silver Paint
- Black felt, 8 ½ x 11 sheet or heavy stock paper
- Red felt, 8 ½ x 11 sheet or heavy stock paper
- Googly eyes
- Black paper, heavy stock or construction paper
- Fabric glue
- Regular glue or double stick tape
- Hot glue gun (optional)
- Paint brush
- Paint the entire box silver, leaving the window unpainted, let dry
- With the black paint create the pointy hairstyle, with the point descending about 1 inch from the top of the box and the curves ending about 1 ½ – 1 ¾ inches from the side of the box (see picture).
- Paint around the sides and back of the box in line with the ends of the curves
- From the black paper make eyebrows—these can be pointy or rounded
- From the index card make the nose and teeth
- I painted the nose darker silver by combining silver and a little black paint
- With the glue or double stick tape, attach the eyebrows and nose to the box
- With the glue or double stick tape, attach the teeth to the window, fitting them slightly up into the rim of the window.
- Attach the googly eyes
To make the cape
- Holding the black felt or paper horizontally, cut a piece about 4/5 as tall as the box
- Holding the red felt or paper horizontally, cut a piece of red felt so that there will be a ½-inch border of black along the top and sides
- With the fabric glue attach the red felt to the black felt. Use craft glue on paper. Let dry
- With the hot glue gun, fabric glue, craft glue, or double stick tape, attach the felt or paper to the back of the box
- Fold the felt or paper around the sides of the box and attach along the bottom edge with tape or glue
- Fold the top of the felt or paper back to make the collar
- Attach the bottom portion of the collar to the box near the front edge with the tape or glue.
Fill with your favorite treat!
Picture Book Review