cover image Curse of Claudia

Curse of Claudia

Edward Miller, Author Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers $12.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-517-57408-9

The vampire bat--a Dracula type--spots the horror just as it is about to descend upon his gloomy, rotting paradise. Chipper Claudia, in an Audrey Hepburn sheath, scarf and sunglasses, drops in on her old high school buddy Eva--a zombie--and trills a hello. She disrupts their lives with brisk morning jogs (they who only walk at night) and when, in revenge, they serve her lizards in slime sauce, Claudia asks for the recipe. Will nothing stop this terror? Claudia leaves the garden in full bloom and gives Eva a glamour-girl makeover. But her ultimate evil reveals itself in the last frames--she has cleaned all the cobwebs, dust and therefore ambience from the place. The creator of Frederick Ferdinand Fox could have given his story a one-joke plot, but instead takes a clever idea and delivers a bang-up, good old-fashioned thriller. Readers will sympathize with the monsters, while cherishing hapless Claudia's persistence and very threatening joie de vivre . The art is different than that of Miller's first book, but just as original as the story; cut-out characters (Claudia in sunny yellow, the rest in deadening shades of green, gray, black and beige) live out this humor-filled nightmare, which ends with the vampire's dire words: ``She was the only human scarier than a monster. . . . Even after she left, she still managed to scare us one more time. She had been cleaning all day.'' What a wacked-out universe--what an inventive book. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)