Bibliographic information: Tantalize. Cynthia Leitich Smith. Candlewick Press, 2007. $16.99. 310p. ISBN-13: 9780763627911.
Summary: Quincie Morris and her uncle have taken over the family restaurant and have decided to create a new theme that will catch more attention, vampires. Quincie is working hard to get the restaurant done in time for it to reopen, but a series of gruesome murders, that seem to have been animal attacks, puts things at a stand still. Quincie’s best friend, and love interest, is a half werewolf and may just be the prime suspect for the murders, and he is looking to leave town soon anyway so that he can study how to be a werewolf. When the restaurant’s chef is murdered, it leaves Quincie and her uncle scrambling to find a new chef that can create a new menu and pull off the vampire ensemble. The new hired chef, Henry Johnson, seems to be the perfect fit for the job and he plays the role of the vampire quite well, almost too well.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 14 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: Taking you back to a more traditional vampire tale, Tantalize will captivate you. You can tell Smith did a lot of research into her vampire and were myths. Told in the first person point of view of protagonist Quincie Morris, this is a love story but with so much more. Smith does a great job with developing her characters, especially with Quincie and Kieren. Quincie is trying to get a grip on the news of soon becoming a vampire, while her best friend Kieren is struggling with being a half-breed werewolf and his impending departure to go study with other were-people. One of the wonderful things about Smiths were-people is that there are more than just werewolves, there are also were-possums, were-armadillos, and others, all native to Texas. The format of her novel is delectable and creative, with its sections that come from a menu, starting with your appetizer all the way to your dessert and wine. This was very clever of Smith; it fits right in with the main setting of the book, a vampire themed restaurant. The ambiance she sets is one that makes you feel like you are participating in an elaborate and elegant play.
Readers’ annotation: Meet Bradly, Vampire Chef. Try the creamed squirrels, they are delectable. Although, there is a slight side effect, you’ll turn into a vampire.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book is filled with supernatural monsters and would be a great place for children to face their fears of any monsters they may have in their life and fight back against them, just like Quincie does and defeat them. Being able to read about monsters will give children courage to fight their fear of monsters, whether they be real or imagined monsters.
Issues present: Books with supernatural monsters tend to be challenged and this book has vampires, were-creatures, and angels, but books such as this one are a great place for children to fight their fears they may have of monsters, real or imagined.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Quincie’s character.
Come sit down for dinner and meet our vampire chef.
Genre or subject: fantasy: vampires, supernatural monsters, angels, were-creatures
Readalikes: Twilight series, A Touch Mortal, The Vampire Diaries, City of Bones
Author’s website: http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/
Awards: Top Ten pick, Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) list of 2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults in the “What’s Cooking?” category (“tasty reads to fill your belly and warm your soul”); Borders Original Voices Nominee, March 2007; Featured title, 2007 National Book Festival; 2007-2008 Tayshas List; Chapters (Canada) Junior Advisory Board (JAB) pick; Featured title, 2007 Texas Book Festival; BBYA nominee; Featured title, 2007 Kansas Book Festival; Cybils nominee; Featured title, Readergirlz 31 Flavorite Authors for Teens
Reviews: Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7636-2791-1; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-42637131.xml
Why I chose it: I was interested in how angels and vampires went together because you do not often see them in the same novels.