Garlic and the Vampire by Bree Paulsen
In the hills there is a little village and in a small house with a garlic bulb roof, Garlic wakes up with a big stretch and notices a note left by Carrot. “I tried to wake you so it's your fault if you're late today.” In a panic, Garlic gets ready, grabs her bulging bag, and runs out of the house. She can't be late again!
At the market, Carrot is bored until he spots Garlic ducking and weaving through the crowd, nearly causing chaos in her haste. At the stall, Garlic dumps her bag full of garlic bulbs into a crate next to Carrot’s carrots and slumps behind the counter.
To her mortification and frustration, Garlic is always late on Market Day. Carrot actually thought she’d died, and despite Garlic’s desperate hopes, Witch Agnes noticed she was late. Again. Also, Celery is still mad at her for knocking over his very extra display of celery last week. He constantly glares at her.
Market Day is busy as usual with all the produce being bought by the local townsfolk, except one bulb of garlic Garlic must have dropped. In what seems to be her usual clumsy way, Garlic chases the bulb to Celery’s stall, which thankfully is empty as she bonks her head on the counter. Uggh, time to head home and to take a nap, today was stressful. As the Veggies walk along, Potato notices smoke coming from the spooky castle’s chimney Curious.
The next morning, Garlic and Carrot, along with the other Veggies, make their way to Witch Agnes’ vegetable garden to tend the crops. Garlic likes to talk to her garlic sprouts which Witch Agnes sees and approves of, she calls it a little magic to help them grow, much to Garlic’s surprise. Witch Agnes tells Garlic that all the Veggies have become so much more than mute helpers; they’re their own beings now pursuing their own interests and diversifying. So, if Garlic wants to take a break, try something new, or go off on an adventure, that's fine. Garlic looks toward the woods, hears a howl, and tells Witch Agnes thank you, but no thank you.
Witch Agnes, however, believes that Garlic is capable of more, despite her own misgivings and lack of confidence, and one day she could breathe life into the garlic bulbs and not just help them grow. This causes Garlic to panic, what if she’s sold someone an alive garlic! As Witch Agnes tries to calm Garlic down, Carrot watches on from his crop. Potato, however, keeps looking at the spooky castle and the smoking chimneys. Eventually more of the Veggies are drawn to what Potato keeps staring at. Carrot tries to be reasonable but Celery is causing panic, sure something terrible must be going on. The kerfuffle draws Witch Agnes’s attention.
Witch Agnes tells the Veggies to calm down, it's nothing or… it's a vampire. One used to live there a long time ago. It may have come back. GASP! PANIC! TERROR! Calm down, it could also just be a random traveler. While Scallion and Pumpkin offer to go scout the spooky castle, Celery suggests that the obvious one to go is Garlic. (Celery is a jerk) Witch Agnes interrupts, she has an easier solution.
Inside Witch Agnes’s home, the Veggies take a seat in front of a full-length mirror. They are going to use the mirror to scry and check to see if there is a vampire in residence at the spooky castle. Together they look into the mirror which reflects a long corridor in the spooky castle. After a few moments they confirm that yes, there is a vampire in residence at the spooky castle as an older, sharp-featured and smartly-dressed gentleman with pointy ears and red eyes comes into view and looks straight at them. GASP!
Witch Agnes quickly covers the mirror, but is it too late? One of the Veggies declares that they must do something to save the townsfolk. With a smirk, Celery points out that garlic wards off vampires so clearly Garlic must go. Poor Garlic is trembling in her chair next to Carrot. Witch Agnes is helpless as Celery persuades the others to send Garlic to destroy the vampire. Garlic runs out of the cottage upset and is followed by Carrot. Garlic is scared and doesn't know what to do. To her surprise, even Carrot thinks she should go because she has natural immunity to vampires. Garlic points out that vampires may actually like garlic and they spread a false rumor, or worse, and more likely, she says, what if she messes up?
Carrot gives Garlic a rousing speech while at the same time painting a picture of doom, gloom and disaster if she doesn't go, though, all this might be for nothing and the vampire could be harmless. Screwing her courage to the sticking place, Garlic says that she’ll do it. She’ll confront the vampire. Carrot shouts her agreement back to the Veggies who cheer while Witch Agnes looks worried.
Garlic is down by the river, her tears dropping into the water. Witch Agnes approaches and offers Garlic a hug. Witch Agnes tells Garlic that she doesn’t have to go, that they will think of something else, but Garlic insists, despite her worries, that only she can check if the vampire has legions of minions that will destroy them all. Garlic insists that she’ll be brave, but OH MY GRAPES, she will gratefully accept any extra help Witch Agnes can offer.
As they stroll along, Witch Agnes advises that vampires don’t like the sun so it's best to go in the morning. She uses her magic to show a leaf with red berries, a hawthorn, Garlic knows exactly where one is, and together they break off a branch. Back at Witch Agnes’s home, she explains that the hawthorn has magical properties and uses her own magic, with a little wink, to turn the branch into a stake and hammer. Witch Agnes also gives Garlic a leaf necklace for protection and a bag of seeds and grains for distraction. All these tools give Garlic confidence and she gives Witch Agnes a smile.
It's a nice sunny day and Garlic is ready to set off. Witch Agnes will do her best to keep the clouds away, and, to help Garlic get to and from the spooky castle, Solas, her raven, will help. Oh, and Celery is going too. It was his idea, so Witch Agnes insists he needs to go in case things get hairy, and hands him a bag with garlic bulbs in. Before Garlic climbs on Solas’s back, Carrot gives her a big hug as the other Veggies cheer her on. Celery does not look happy. As they fly, Celery screams they're going to die while Garlic dismisses him and gives herself a pep talk, “I’m brave. It’s just a vampire, and I’m garlic.”
It doesn’t take long for Solas to get Garlic and Celery to the spooky castle, and the building is huge. Celery is scared, and doesn’t want to take any responsibility for putting Garlic in this position. Celery, with smarmy expressions and a condescending tone, tries to take the coward's way out by returning with Solas to the Veggies, claiming Garlic wanted to go alone. Before Celery can climb on Solas, Garlic orders the raven to perch above the door and knock with their beak. As Garlic pulls out the hawthorn stake from her bag, Celery declares he’s out of there and runs off.
Inside the spooky castle by a roaring fire and in a comfortable seat, the vampire is enjoying a drink, red wine? the blood of a townsfolk? and ignores Solas’s knocks, thinking it's probably just a woodpecker. When the knocks become insistent, he goes to investigate, sure the vampire hunters understood their agreement. When he opens the door, however, no one is there. The vampire doesn’t see Garlic slip inside behind him. Closing the door, the vampire turns and sees his nemesis.
Stake in one hand, hammer in the other, Garlic stands her ground declaring that she is the world-famous vampire hunter, Garlic! Really? The vampire has met the best, and does not recall her. Getting a little nervous now with the vampire walking toward her, Garlic gives him an ultimatum: leave and never return or face her stake. Nerves overtake Garlic and she crumples to the ground, telling the vampire to do his worst, but he walks on back to his drink, comfy chair and roaring fire.
Garlic follows, impressed by the spooky castle. The vampire introduces himself as Count and apologizes in disappointing Garlic by not doing what she expected and killing her. The Count explains he has an agreement with the local vampire hunters and magics over a scroll for Garlic to read. Garlic reads through the scroll and asks if this means the Count doesn’t have legions of minions who do his dark bidding to take over the world. This makes the Count laugh uproariously. Oh my no, he hasn’t had minions in a very long time. He wasn’t meeting their expectations of world domination because it's simply too much hassle. The Count only wants to live out his immortal life relaxing.
Concerned about his specialized diet, Garlic asks what blood he drinks and the Count declares he is a vegetarian. On a rare occasion he will have a sip from local wildlife, but mostly, holding up his glass, he says he enjoys a beetroot and tomato juice blend with a hint of lime and a pinch of cayenne, his own creation. But where does he get the produce from? The Count takes Garlic to his hot house where he is growing an abundance of produce. Garlic is very impressed with his green thumb and wants to show him the garden where she was born. As they start to walk out of the castle, Garlic trips and the bag of seeds and grains goes everywhere. GASP! Sorry! The Count must count them, but Garlic helps by gathering them.
Back at Witch Agnes’s garden, Carrot is with Turnip at the top of the water tower. He’s very worried about Garlic. Suddenly he spots Celery walking through the trees, alone. When questioned about Garlic and Solas, Celery says he doesn’t know and doesn’t care. WHAT?! Carrot climbs down and grabs Celery who admits he booked it when Solas started knocking on the door. Indignantly, Celery keeps walking leaving a crying Carrot in his wake. Climbing back up the water tower, Carrot starts his vigil again and the other Veggies join him for a short time. All of a sudden, Carrot spots Solas, but no Garlic, but as his tears fall, Garlic comes running from the trees with the Count. The other Veggies watch on as Garlic and Carrot hug, then Garlic introduces Carrot to Count. In the background, Witch Agnes looks stunned.
Count, who has very good manners, goes to meet Witch Agnes who he says looks familiar. Witch Agnes suggests he might have known her mother a long time ago. Ah yes! She was helping him look for a blood substitute, so perhaps Witch Agnes could take over? Meanwhile, Carrot whispers to Garlic that he wants to know why Garlic brought the vampire to their garden. Loudly, Garlic introduces Count to the Veggies and says he is going to start helping in the garden. WHAT?
Garlic explains Count is a keen gardener but wants to learn more, and then he extends an invitation to all the Veggies to visit his own garden. As the Veggies are still anxious about a vampire in their midst, Carrot steps forward declares he’d love help from a new friend and shakes Count’s finger, which encourages everyone to welcome Count. Meanwhile, Celery has been watching on, and begrudgingly offers his own welcome. Count, in a very smooth manner, shames Celery for ruining off and abandoning Garlic.
It’s time for Count to leave, so he changes into a bat, WHAT!, and flies back to the spooky castle. All the Veggies crowd around Garlic, hugging her, giving her the thumbs up and telling her they're so happy she's back and that she was brave in going to meet the vampire. As the story closes, we see Witch Agnes’s garden is thriving. Witch Agnes magics up Count a sun hat, and all the Veggies appreciate his help, especially being able to transform into a bat to harvest the oranges. The Veggies visit Count's garden and the spooky castle and help his plants to flourish. He sets up a stall to sell his goods right next to Garlic and Carrot.