‘Vikram And The Vampire,’ A Story For Kids To Read Aloud
We do our best. We read with our kids when we can. We forward the articles on how to develop kids’ language skills. (If you haven’t, do it now.) We’ve even picked out children’s books that will help teach phonetics, build vocabulary, instill values.
And you want us to do voices, now, too? Look, it’s late. We’re tired. We’re hungry. And some of us are just damn unimaginative.
Good thing we have Natasha Sharma’s Vikram and the Vampire, filled with the kind of exclamations and onomatopoeia that beg to be read in funny voices. “Hic Hic!” “Splash!” “Thud!” “Ahem!” and more are all helpfully italicized in a special font to guide parents on how to make this fun bedtime read extra entertaining.
Vikram and the Vampire is a story for kids meant to be read aloud. Along with the emphases, Sharma’s creative wordplay sounds better on the lips than in the head. While it may seem too energetic for evening reading, the book’s format lends itself to installments: Each chapter is a short story, complete with a life lesson. The collection is loosely tied together by a king’s quest to fulfill a debt to a sorcerer; the stories (and the titular vampire) are part of his challenge. They include characters with names like Itsratherhot, Cleverish and Dukhdard. My personal favourite was a story about two friends, Whatever and Whoever, and a beautiful young lady called Whyever. Clearly, chaos ensues.
It’s not all kid stuff, though; there are subtle jokes for parents to enjoy, too. Aside from Sharma’s clever banter, there’s a nod to pop culture’s favourite vampire epic that will elicit a smirk no matter whether you’re Team Edward, Team Jacob or Team PleaseGodNoneOfIt.
If there’s one quibble I have, it’s that I’d like to see fewer female characters in the roles of only daughters, mothers or wives. I would have loved to see one of the stories flipped so that it was a queen screaming, “Off with their heads!” (Oh wait, that’s been done. Then, perhaps a queen with three husbands, instead of a king with three wives?) But since Sharma was working from source material — the book is a fresh take on the millennium-old Baital Pachisi by Somadeva — she may have felt she could update only so much.
One thing to consider: While the reading level isn’t particularly advanced – nor is the book particularly scary – a corpse plays a pivotal role in the plot. So best to introduce this into the libraries of slightly older kids, possibly 6 to 10. Unless you want to explain death with one breath and sing “Tra lala lala la laaa!” with the next.