My Headteacher is a Vampire Rat! by Pamela Butchart is the hilarious story of Izzy and her friends Jodi, Maisie and Zach, whose overactive imaginations get them into all sorts of trouble.
There are strange goings-on at the school. Classrooms are shut with mysterious notices, rumours of rat infestations abound, the headteacher has disappeared, and in his place is the mysterious Mr Graves, whose office is kept in darkness. The new headteacher is tall and scary with dark eyes and thin wormy lips, and in his office is a picture of him wearing a long black cape. The other teachers are behaving as if they are mind-controlled.
There’s only one explanation – he’s a vampire! And not just any old vampire, but a vampire rat (which is a lot like a vampire bat, only without the wings).
Izzy and the gang are determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. They research vampires thoroughly (fortunately discarding all they hear from Jodi’s mum about the sparkly kind) so when they discover that the headteacher has banned garlic bread from Italian Day in the school cafeteria, two things happen – one, they’ve got confirmation the head is a vampire, and two, they’ve got the inklings of a plan… a plan that involves garlic muffins…
Izzy and friends are daft as a sack of badgers, and they all have their moments in the story. Maisie is clearly the best, although she’s isn’t much actual help due to her timidity and habit of fainting at the least alarming sight. You can imagine she spends a lot of this book unconscious, given that there’s a vampire in charge of the school.
The pace is frantic. The jokes come thick and fast, including some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. And the illustrations, by Thomas Flintham, are perfect – there are scampering mice and rats cavorting on pages throughout the book, scenes of chaos and panic, and some dramatic pages so dark that they’ve had to use white text on a black background. Flintham can get a lot of expression in to a few lines – usually terror, in this book.
Fun, exciting, silly – you can’t ask for much more than that. Recommended.