“LOL funny.” –Girls Life
A Huffington Post Best Children’s Book of 2018
A middle schooler comes head-to-head with his vampire slayer crush in this laugh-out-loud funny graphic novel that’s a perfect coming-of-age story for anyone who’s ever felt too young, too small, or too average.
It’s the beginning of the new school year and AJ feels like everyone is changing but him. He hasn’t grown or had any exciting summer adventures like his best friends have. He even has the same crush he’s harbored for years. So AJ decides to take matters into his own hands. But how could a girl like Nia Winters ever like plain vanilla AJ when she only has eyes for vampires?
When AJ and Nia are paired up for a group project on Transylvania, it may be AJ’s chance to win over Nia’s affection by dressing up like the vamp of her dreams. And soon enough he’s got more of Nia’s attention than he bargained for when he learns she’s a slayer.
Now AJ has to worry about self-preservation while also trying to save everyone he cares about from a real-life threat lurking in the shadows of Spoons Middle School.
Gardner offers a slightly new take on the perennial vampire love story: boy meets girl, boy feigns vampirism to get girl's attention, and girl pursues boy in order to slay him. AJ's fanged approach has its drawbacks, but when he and Nia work together on a report about Transylvania, they soon realize that there is a real vampire in their Northwest U.S. community, and only they are prepared to confront it. Gardner's tale, which includes a share of lighthearted pokes at the Twilight series, is a fun romp through sixth grade that's made all the more amusing by AJ's cool sister and hyper-competitive friends, Hunter and Ivy. Quirky visual details, such as refrigerator magnets and characters' unusually shaped noses, and fantasy elements, such as the hearts and rainbows that flow from the drinking fountain when AJ sees Nia use it, balance Gardner's simple drawing style and minimal backgrounds. The result focuses the eye on the action and keeps the story moving swiftly. Ages 10 up.