I must admit that before I bought this book, I had misunderstood the title. I was expecting a more fanciful story about a vampire rat. I am not sure why exactly, since the cover clearly shows a pirate ship. But, be that as it may, I was still really excited to get my hands on another Mira Canion book. I’ve got class sets of several of her other books and know her writing is always top notch in my opinion. This book was no exception. From sword play to bullying, this book had a lot of reality in it while still being fiction. Be warned though, this book has quite the cliff hanger ending. If you like your stories wrapped up in a nice little box then you may wish to choose another of her books, as the ending here is wide open. This story is 53 pages long, written in the past tense and has 240 unique words. It does have a lot of illustrations, but not enough for me to say it is ideal for a first-year student. While the topics are hefty and do include a level of implied violence, no one is seriously injured during any of the conflicts, so I would give this to my fifth graders as an option in their library. Since I change my books out every quarter, I would probably not add this one into the rotation until third or fourth quarter, just to make sure they have become experienced enough readers to handle the higher word count.
La Vampirata begins in the time (and location) of the Salem Witch Trials. This is not an ideal time to be very pale skinned with jet black hair, but Sarah is and the whole community ostracizes her. She is looking for any way out of her situation when she comes to possess a mystical emerald and a story about a magical place where it comes from. She decides to hop the first ship out of Salem to seek out adventure and to learn the truth of the emerald. Unfortunately, her choices lead her to more danger as she finds herself on a pirate ship filled with dangerous pirates in search of the very same emerald that she is hiding. How long can she keep her secret? How long before the crew turns on her just like her old community had? Will she ever get where she is going? The only way to know is to read it!
Honestly, I’m not sure my students, even after three years with me, will have the stamina for a book of this length. They are still quite young, and prefer much more pictures still. But, I’m still thrilled to have it, and plan on keeping it in my rotation of books to read during our FVR time. I will just keep it tucked away, putting it out for the last quarter for my oldest students, in hopes that someone is just chomping at the bit for a great pirate story.