Rory H. Mather (text) and Jesus Lopez (illustrator), Vlad’s Bad Breath, Larrikin House, September 2020, 32 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9780648728771.
Vlad’s Bad Breath is Rory H. Mather’s debut title, the first in a series of stories focused on self-care, with the Vlad sequel, Love’s Not Dead coming in 2021.
This is the tale of a boy named Vlad,
A boy whose breath smelt super bad.
Vlad refused to brush his teeth,
(both on top and underneath).
It has been an awfully long time since little Vlad has brushed his teeth and his breath is putrid enough to stress out the cat and scare away visitors. Vlad’s sister offers some helpful suggestions and his mother begs him to change but beneath Vlad’s cheery, undead exterior there are deeper issues at play and the little vampire simply refuses to address his personal hygiene issues.
Luckily, Vlad’s monster best friends are on hand for some open and honest discussions about their own hygiene issues and it soon becomes clear that together they can seek out the help they need.
Young readers will love Jesus Lopez’s cute-as-a-button, bright-cheeked characters who spring to life, full of expression and mischief from the full colour, moonlit pages.
Vlad’s Bad Breath is a sweet rhyming story of friendship, inviting young readers to take a closer look and try to understand the feelings that can hide behind our behaviors sometimes.
With its engaging text, bold illustrations and accompanying ‘Vlad & Friends Hygiene Routine’ poster at the back of the story, Vlad’s Bad Breath is a great picture book to use when introducing personal hygiene and cleanliness to children.
Reviewed by Lisa Hoad