Rüdiger, the little vampire, as illustrated by Amelie GlienkeThe Little Vampire
(original: Der kleine Vampir
) is a children's fantasy series by German author Angela Sommer-Bodenburg that follows the adventures of young Tony Peasbody and the child vampire Rudolph Sackville-Bagg (Anton Bohnsack and Rüdiger von Schlotterstein in the original, respectively). The first book was published in 1979 and has spawned 19 sequels up to 2008, when the last and likely final one came out.
It has sold over 12 million copies and has been translated into over 30 languages. Sommer-Bodenburg states that her "vampire is not a bloodthirsty monster, but an affectionate little vampire with fears and foibles who will perhaps help free children of their own fears."
The books have been adapted to theatre, radio dramas, two television series and a movie.
The Little Vampire series and its adaptations provide examples of:
- Deadpan Snarker: Anton, usually as either a coping mechanism or to detract attention away from questions he doesn't want to answer.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Several of the vampires, though Lumpi is the worst case — explained in-universe by the fact that he's an eternal teenager and will never grow out of puberty.
- Jerk Ass: Rüdiger can be this.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Other times, he can be like this.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: One difference between Lumpi and Rüdiger is that Lumpi fits this trope better.
- Just Whistle: In the movie, Anna gives Tony a good luck charm (dead mouse), and tells him to whistle if he ever needs her help. He later does so when Rookery shuts him in a coffin, and Anna, as promised, shows up to let him out.
- Not Growing Up Sucks: Rüdiger, Anna and Lumpi will forever be the age they were made vampires. It doesn't seem like they actually agree with the trope namer, though. Desperately wanting to grow up is never an issue, even for Lumpi who became a vampire while in puberty and will never grow out of this difficult phase. Rüdiger and Anna, in contrast, still seem to be children at heart, despite the fact that they have been vampires for at least 150 years.
- Our Vampires Are Different: The vampires in this story drink human blood, but can survive on animal blood or - if necessary - eggs as well. They are afraid of the sun and it remains uncertain if sun light would kill them, since the psychologist's desensibilisation program is never tested in practice. A spear through the heart would kill these vampires (as well as any living creature) and they don't like garlic. They don't have any superhuman powers, save for the ability to fly, but even this power comes from their vampire capes (made from a special tissue, as Rüdiger said in one book), so Anton can use one too. Throughout the day, the vampires in this story are unable to move and look dead for the curious observer.
- Pretend We're Dead: Anton frequently disguises himself as a vampire to be able to attend the festivities of his vampire friends.
- Really 700 Years Old: Rüdiger and Anna were turned into vampires as children, but have been dead for more than 150 years.
- Recursive Adaptation: The movie, already very loosely based on the books, got its own novelization, written by Sommer-Bodenburg herself.
- Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: The Little Vampire falls somewhere on the friendly half of the scale, as Rudolph and Anna the Toothless are friends to Tony. Aunt Dorothee from the books, however, is quite the opposite.
- This Is My Name on Foreign: When Rüdiger and Anton attend the festivities at the "Ruine im Jammertal", Rüdiger introduces Anton as "Antonio Bonsackio".
- Undead Child: Rüdiger, Anna and Lumpi are this.
- Van Helsing Hate Crimes: Geiermeier (English name: Rookery), who has previously killed one member of Rüdiger's family, and continues to pursue the rest.