Transylvania Transformer: The Dracula Spectacular Book

October 2, 2015 — That’s me. Sitting down with a good book.

That’s right. That’s a book.

I have my favorite books, the ones that changed my life, altered my worldview, made me both question the universe and accept it, sent me to places and introduced me to people I’d never have had a chance of seeing or meeting in non-paginated life.

And then I met this five-foot-tall vampire book.

And now that’s my favorite book.

I’ve had Dracula Spectacular for a few years. It was written by David Mostyn, designed and illustrated by David Hawcock, and originally published in 1997 by Tango Books in the UK. To completely undersell the thing, it’s an educational kid’s book about vampires.

Obviously, the first feature you notice about the book is its coffin shape. Which is lovely, but not unique. I have a few coffin-shaped books on my shelf and am already firmly of the opinion that all books should be this shape, regardless of their content. In this case, obviously, the shape is particularly apt.

But then you open it. And this leaps out:

Now, if this magnificent pop-up of Dracula’s face, teeth dripping blood and eyes glowing red against a background of tombstones, was all there was to the book, it’d be kind of cool. In fact, I’ve spent entire storytimes with my kids just opening the book over and over again to frighten them.

But then you unfold that page and discover it’s a pop-up book like none you’ve ever seen. It has no pages, per se. Just one long page that you unfold and unfold until you suddenly realize you just created a life-sized vampire and have no wooden stake at hand.

Which is okay, because if you open his vest flap, a stake pops up, firmly planted in his chest with a rivulet of bright red blood pouring down his nicely laundered shirt.

Various flaps across this Vlad the Impaper open up. In his cape is a flap that reveals a bat and explains the existence of vampire bats. You dig in a pocket and out comes a string of garlic, complete with an explanation of why. His pocket watch flips open to tell you about vampire savings time. His shoes lift up to teach you about Vlad Tepes. You can pull a mirror out of his cape to learn that vampires don’t cast reflections.

And as much fun as it is to play pickpocket with Dracula, the drawings and information are just as enjoyable. They illustrate vampire mythology, how vampires are described in various cultures across the globe, the best way to protect yourself from vampires. And all in a tone and style that’s perfect for a kid’s book. I even learned a few things. Like painting fake eyes on the forehead of a black dog will frighten vampires. And Moravian vampires attack victims in the nude.

A nice touch for the book are the two eyelets at the top of the page, above Drac’s head. Yup. You can hang your Draculiterature on your bedroom wall. If everybody in Salem’s Lot had done this, they could have avoided being a Stephen King story in the first place.

Now, I assume you’re thinking the same thing I thought when I first found Dracula Spectacular. There has to be a whole series of these books, each one a different monster. But I can find no trace that the series continued.

Which makes me sad. Because I’ve got a comfy couch that we can all spread out on together.