Garlic and the Vampire by Bree Paulsen

Garlic and the Vampire


Goodreads: Garlic and the Vampire
Series: None
Age Category: Middle Grade
Source: Library
Published: 2021


When a vampire moves into the castle in the woods, Garlic’s friends convince her that only she can confront the threat.

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Garlic and the Vampire is a short graphic novel for the lower middle grade crowd. It follows Garlic (a sentient garlic bulb) when her fellow vegetables volunteer her to confront the vampire who has moved in across the way. Garlic lacks self-esteem and is hesitant and shy, so the thought of having to defeat an evil monster frightens her. However, this is a children’s story so, of course, in the end, mistaken assumptions are corrected and friendship triumphs. There is nothing particularly new or notable about the tale or its message, but the sentient vegetables make the story intriguing if only because readers will have a lot of questions about how sentient vegetables work.

The story here offers nothing fresh; readers know going in that Garlic and the vampire must become friends. And, because the book is so short, not even the “journey” to that friendship proves worth mentioning. Essentially, Garlic just walks up to the vampire’s door, and the vampire introduces himself. He also clarifies that he only snacks on the local wildlife sometimes and that mostly drinks juice. Crisis averted in the span of about two pages. There is zero sense of drama or suspense.

What really interested me about the book is the sentient vegetables. The story opens with the titular Garlic running to the farmer’s market to sell…garlic. Her friend Carrot sells carrots. Tomato sells tomatoes. And so on. Even after the story explains that Garlic and her friends are magical vegetables that have been given life by a witch, it seems more than a little weird. How do the vegetables feel about growing vegetables for other people to eat? Even if those vegetables are (hopefully) not alive? Some readers may find this book cute and winning with its talking vegetables and message of friendship, but the more one thinks about it, the darker the book seems to be.

I read this book in about 15 minutes, so I would not say it is a waste of time to pick it up. I just do not find the book remarkable. There are plenty of stories about unlikely friendships out there, and some of them will likely tug at the heartstrings in the way this one does not. Still, maybe the target audience will enjoy this one more than I.

3 Stars