In French editions Joann Sfar’s charming all-ages series eventually ran to seven books, but sadly this second is one of only two issued in small hardcover English editions.

We met young boy Michael in Little Vampire Goes to School, orphaned and living with his grandparents, and the fortunate pupil whose homework notebook was filled every night when the Little Vampire attended school. A friendship developed, and eventually he met the rest of the monster community who trusted Michael with the secret of their existence. This adventure opens with Michael talking about how he’s bullied at school, and the Little Vampire’s solution is to have him learn kung-fu. Imaginatively, this is via a teacher located in one of the pictures hanging in the monsters’ gallery.

It’s a rare Sfar book where a sense of wonder is absent, and this isn’t one of those exceptions. Sfar’s tendency to jump rapidly from one idea to the next ensures a grand adventure for children, and before long we’ve zipped through several locations and Michael has retrieved the book required to teach him kung-fu. However, his learning becomes a secondary problem, and the newly introduced problem supplies another parade of wonders guaranteed to stimulate a child’s imagination. The only downside is this time around there’s a little too much writing. Sfar’s over-stimulated imagination comes up with one great concept after another, and he explains every character even if they’re restricted to a few lines of dialogue. It’s a minor complaint, though, as the smarter children will relish the detail.

Both Little Vampire stories issued in hardcover were later reprinted in a single paperback, combined with a third story otherwise unavailable in English.