Friday, June 12, 2009

Book Review - A Taste For Red

I will admit that I am rather shallow when it comes to book covers. I DO use them to judge a book. That's why I picked this one up as soon as I saw it on the shelf.
But ultimately, it was the sentence on the bottom that convinced me I had to have this book. Below the author's name it reads:
What happens when your sixth-grade science teacher might also be your immortal enemy?
Hello?! Former middle school science teacher here! So, on the outside we have a fabulous cover and a great hook. Inside we have a delicious, well-written tale that gleefully winds it way to an ending that simply begs for a sequel (or two or three). Did I mention that it's just plain fun?

Meet Stephanie, now calling herself Svetlana, a sixth grader who has recently moved from Texas to California and is entering public school (middle school no less) after being home-schooled by her mother. She has taken to eating only red foods (white too because they're "neutral"). The lunches she packs for herself are composed of things like cranberry juice, strawberries, a ham sandwich, and red velvet cake.

Svetlana's friends, Fumio Chen and Dwight Foote are nicely developed characters (and I do mean characters) and add quite a bit of charm to the story. You'll also find the typical popular girls, but it's when they disappear that things get interesting.

Svetlana believes she's a vampire. When her new science teacher, Ms. Larch, talks to her without speaking (she whispers words in her mind without ever moving her lips), Svetlana wonders what she is and how they're connected. It's the sweet old lady next door, Lenora Bones, who tells Svetlana who Ms. Larch really is, while teaching Svetlana a bit about herself. Here's an excerpt.
How had the Bone Lady gotten in and out of my hideout so fast? There was more to that old woman than met the eye, even beyond the fact that she kept a knife in her boot. Ms. Bones obviously believed that the three girls had run afoul of the so-called Kensington Vampire. Now that she knew Ms. Larch was the woman she sought and that she was a teacher at Sunny Hill Middle School, Lenora Bones had connected the missing girls to her. But could it be true?
When Ms. Bones has an accident, it's up to Svetlana to deal with the Kensington Vampire.

I could say more, but I don't want to spoil the ending. There was one twist that I didn't see coming that was both stunning and hilarious. When things got to the nail biting stage I found myself cheering for Svetlana and her friends. You will too. This is an enchanting romp that middle school kids will thoroughly enjoy. I hope Mr. Harris is hard at work on a sequel, because I'm ready for one.

Book: A Taste for Red
Author: Lewis Harris
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication Date: June, 2009
Pages: 176 pages
Grades: 4-8
ISBN: 978-0547144627
Source of Book:
Copy purchased at a local independent bookstore.


  1. I read this one and didn't get into it that much, so I appreciate hearing another perspective. I did like the red thing, and some of the characters were a lot of fun--especially dour Svetlana with her vampire aspirations.

    --Book Aunt

  2. I haven't read this one yet, but I saw the cover in a catalog and was like, "Yup, probably going to have to read that one."

  3. This sounds FUN! I'll have to look out for it.