Vampires of Blinsh by Daniel PInkwater, with pictures by Aaron Renier

If the artist Red Grooms, the podcast (and books) Welcome to Nightvale and the television show (I know there was a movie that inspired it...) What We Do in the Shadows had a baby, it would be the picture book Vampires of Blinsh. If you know the works of author/illustrators Daniel Pinkwater (The Big Orange Splot, The Hoboken Chicken Emergency and more) and Aaron Renier (The Unsinkable Walker Bean graphic novels), this peculiar picture book will make perfect sense. Vampires of Blinsh, with endpapers that are a map of the town, in daylight and at night, is more of a travelogue than narrative, but mostly an admonishment to get to know the main inhabitants of Blinsh, a city in the state of Pinksylvania, because "Vampires are misunderstood individuals" who are "not so different from us." In fact, 51 percent of Blinshites are vampires and "every family has at least one." And, while it's true that a "certain amount of biting happens," a "nip on the neck may just be a vampire's way of saying, 'Hello, let's be friends.'"

Vampires of Blinsh, a cornucopia of silly names and curious townsfolk (of all colors and abilities) doing astounding things, this picture book is also a delight for those in the know with sharp eyes. You can start your search early on when the tweed-clad Jonas Papooshnik is nibbled on by Herman Renfrew. Papooshnik looks a lot like Pinkwater himself. If looks aren't enough, he drives a car with bumper stickers that read, "I'd rather be writing," "Hug a librarian," and "I [heart] NORNISH NEWS" (Nornish is a town in Pinksylvania) and the license plate PLM-B33N, as in Mr. Plumbean, the home-owning adherent to sameness who experiences a personal revolution when a seagull drops a can of orange paint on his roof, creating The Big Orange Splot. As you ponder the popularity of the all-night donut shop that sells "the worst tasting donuts anywhere on earth," (flavors like "boiled turnip and sauerkraut," "spinach, sardine and peach," and "green olive and applesauce") and whether or not the Blinshites are insane for continuing to buy and eat these donuts, "hoping it will be better this time," keep your eye out for an increasing number of people sprouting capes and red eyes and floating. Although, as the narrator tells us, "Numerous normal-type Pinksylvanians" have learned to float in the air, possibly from their vampire neighbors. And Renier's illustrations, many of which offer a bird's eye view of Blinshites going about their night (of course the entire book takes place at night) will have readers feeling like they are floating in the air, too.

There is so much more, like Onion King discount market on the edge of Blinsh that has an annual Midnight Madness sale ("the produce is stale, but the prices are sensational,") the all-vampire fire department, and of course, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Raccoons. There is Otto Van Helsing, an "amateur garlic fancier" with a sour disposition, who can be seen walking his dog, Renfield, across the pages. Crossing  the Dovetail River over the Boosh Bridge, along with the fellow in the community room at city hall who looks a bit like Noel Fielding, (star of the British series The Mighty Boosh) could also be something...

As Vampires of Blinsh comes to a close, readers get a fly-over of the nearby, always fun city that never sleeps, Blorsh and a glimpse of the capitol of Pinksylvania, Farshingle, rounding out the darkly delightful tour of this imaginary state.

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