Leo's Skiing Surprise.


64 pages
ISBN 978-0-88780-738-1
DDC jC843'.54




Illustrations by Jules Prud'homme
Translated by Sarah Cummins
Reviewed by Sylvia Pantaleo

Sylvia Pantaleo is an assistant professor of education specializing in
children’s literature at Queen’s University and the co-author of
Learning with Literature in the Canadian Elementary Classroom.


Leo is an unusual boy. As well as being good friends with Julio Orasul, a vampire, Leo can communicate with his deceased grandfather when he visits his grave. Leo’s parents and Mr. Applebaum know about Julio and his vampire family—who live in an underground apartment in the same graveyard where Leo’s grandfather is buried. Further, a local bully named Butch, who met Julio but does not know that he is a vampire, pressures Leo to deliver a message to Julio from him.


As a special Christmas present, Leo wants to take Julio night-skiing and, after much discussion, the adults agree to let Julio go on this risky adventure. Julio’s parents express concern about their son becoming a “modern” vampire like his cousins. The skiing excursion goes well until the trip home, when Mr. Applebaum and the boys get caught in a blizzard and have an accident. Serendipitously, both Julio’s cousins and Butch are involved in the rescue of Leo, an injured Julio, and Mr. Applebaum. Leo observes how the risky situation brings out the best in people.


The inclusion of the vampire characters detracts from the believability of the plot. The subplots lack synergism, the events are contrived, and the messages of the book are didactic. The black-and-white illustrations scattered throughout the novel reflect plot events. Not recommended.


Leblanc, Louise., “Leo's Skiing Surprise.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 15, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/28413.