Der kleine Vampir
|The Little Vampire|
Der kleine Vampir, first volume (2008 German edition cover)
|Original title||Der kleine Vampir|
|Cover artist||Amelie Glienke|
|Genre(s)||Fantasy Novel, Children literature|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
The Little Vampire (German: "Der kleine Vampir") is the title of a series of children fantasy books created in 1979 by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg. The overall plot deals with the friendship between a human boy called Anton and Rüdiger, a vampire boy. The basic idea dates back to 1976, when Sommer-Bodenburg wrote short stories about the adventures of the little vampire and a human boy, finally collecting them and forming the series' plot from them.
Anton Bohnsack, an ordinary 9-year-old boy, loves horror stories, especially about vampires. One evening, he suddenly finds a real vampire sitting on his windowsill who is out for a snack, but when they discover a common ground in their love for vampire stories, they quickly become friends. In time, Anton learns that his visitor, who goes by the name of Rüdiger, is actually part of an entire vampire clan, the Schlottersteins, who reside in a hidden crypt in an old part of the local cemetery. Little by little, Anton gets to know others of Rüdiger’s family members, especially his younger sister Anna and his older, moody brother Lumpi.
Anton undertakes frequent nightly “trips” with his unusual friends, particularly Rüdiger and Anna, with the help of a vampire cape borrowed to Anton. However, these trips also prove perilous at times as Anton has to both hide his presence (and his friendship to Rüdiger) from hostile vampires, his own parents, and the fanatical vampire hunter Geiermeier, the cemetery's caretaker and the most bitter enemy of the Schlottersteins.
Main characters 
- Anton Bohnsack
Anton is 9 years old and visits the 3rd grade. He likes reading horror stories, especially vampire stories like those written by Sheridan Le Fanu or Hugh Walpole. After becoming involved in the world of vampires, he goes great lengths to assist both his new friends, Rüdiger and Anna, and their family (who are not fully aware of Anton's friendship with Rüdiger) against potential dangers, including his own parents and especially Geiermeier. However, as Anton quickly finds out, simply being acquainted with a vampire carries its own perils as well.
- Rüdiger von Schlotterstein
Rüdiger is the second youngest of the Schlotterstein clan, and was turned into a vampire when he was 11. Though most of the time, he’s only interested in himself and his own benefit, he never abandons his friends. He shows the vampires' world to Anton and meets him as often as possible. He has a lot of respect for his older brother Lumpi and tries to emulate him. There are typical siblings troubles between him and his sister Anna.
- Anna von Schlotterstein
Anna is the youngest of the Schlotterstein children and was turned into a vampire at the age of 9. Shortly after Rüdiger met Anton, he introduces Anna to his human friend, starting a close friendship between the two. In fact, both Anna and Anton develop a crush on each other, but their respective natures as human and vampire pose an impenetrable barrier for a more serious relationship.
Initially, Anna was known as "Anna die Zahnlose" ("Anna the Toothless") because she didn't want to become a true vampire and drank milk as a substitute nourishment, though later on she gives in to her true nature, although her affection for Anton still remains strong. In the end of the series, she is appointed the successor of the German vampire leader, Elisabeth die Naschhafte.
Schlotterstein vampires 
- Lumpi der Starke (Lumpi the Strong)
Rüdiger and Anna's older brother, and the self-proclaimed strongman of his family. He is a very temperamental person, since he became a vampire at the height of his puberty. Although he occasionally makes threatening illusions to Anton, he is generally on good terms with him and keeps his and his sibling's relationship with him confidential from the remaining Schlottersteins.
- Aunt Dorothee von Schlotterstein-Seifenschwein
Rüdiger and Anna's aunt, and perhaps the most bloodthirsty and relentless of the Schlotterstein vampires, with whom Anton had his own close calls as well. After losing her husband Theodor to Geiermeier, she remains a widow for a long time, but towards the end of the series she falls for Mr. Schwanenhals, the teacher of Anton's dance class and, coupled with his voluntary conversion into a vampire, marries him in the last volume.
- Uncle Theodor von Seifenschwein
Rüdiger and Anna's uncle. Long before the story begins, he was caught playing cards on his coffin by Geiermeier, who subsequently killed him. This event forced the Schlottersteins into moving their coffins into a subterranean crypt beneath the cemetery. Theodor's coffin remains in the crypt, as a cover for a secret emergency exit, and his vampire cloak is lent to Anton on a regular basis for his nocturnal vampire adventures.
- Sabine die Schreckliche (Sabine the Terrible)
The elder matriarch of the Schlotterstein family, and Rüdiger, Anna and Lumpi's grandmother.
- Wilhelm der Wüste (William the Rakish)
Sabine's husband, and Rüdiger and Anna's grandfather.
- Ludwig der Fürchterliche (Ludwig the Horrible) and Hildegard die Durstige (Hildegard the Thirsty)
These two vampires are the son and daughter-in-law of Sabine die Schreckliche and therefore Rüdiger, Anna and Lumpi's parents.
- Anton's Parents
Anton Bohnsack, a jokester and shipping company worker, and his wife Helga, a rather temperamental schoolteacher, are perhaps Anton's greatest obstacles in his new life with the vampires. Initially they do not believe that Anton's new friends (Rüdiger and Anna) are vampires, although they find the latters' mode of dress rather peculiar. However, after an incident in which Anna was inadvertently photographed but did not appear in the picutre, they both begin to take the matter a bit more seriously, even if they still do not fully believe in the existence of vampires. Like his son Anton, Mr. Bohnsack was named after his own father (and Anton's grandfather).
- Hans-Heinrich Geiermeier
The keeper of the local old cemetery and the self-declared nemesis of the Schlotterstein vampires. After encountering Uncle Theodor by chance and killing him, Geiermeier has been waging his private war with the vampires ever since, a conflict in which Anton often has to interfere for the benefit of his friends. His anti-vampie habits include garlic as part of his regular diet, and an armament of wooden stakes carried on his nighttime patrols.
A gardener hailing from Stuttgart who was hired as Geiermeier's assistant for hunting down vampires. Unlike Geiermeier, Schnuppermaul is somewhat dimwitted, less obsessive and has an extreme cleanliness quirk, making him a comic relief figure contrasting his partner and employer. He unwittingly becomes friends with Lumpi, and even after discovering the latter's true nature, they retain their friendship at the end of the series.
- Dr. Jürgen Schwartenfeger
Schwartenfeger is a psychologist. He first appears when Anton's parent decide to send their son to him to cure him of his fascination of vampires, but it turns out that Schwartenfeger has actually developed a program to help vampires in overcoming their aversion to sunlight, which he believes to be a psychological condition rather than a physiological one. Rüdiger eventually becomes one of his patients.
- Igno von Rant
Von Rant makes his first appearance as a patient for Schwartenfeger's vampire desensibilization program. Although he appears as a vampire, von Rant (whose name is a wordgame for "ignorant") is actually a university professor named August Piepenschnurz who is in cohorts with Geiermeier. He woos Aunt Dorothee and tries to win the trust of the Schlotterstein children, but his masquerade is exposed thanks to Anton's efforts.
Other vampires 
- Olga, Fräulein von Seifenschwein
The cousin of Rüdiger and Anna from their uncle's side. A spoiled, manipulative and highly arrogant girl, she fled from Transilvania to Germany when her family was destroyed by a band of vampire hunters, seeking sanctuary with her aunt's family. She quickly becomes the romantic interest for Rüdiger, but she expresses more interest in Anton instead. Only after she bites Anton and drinks his blood to make him her slave in the series' last volume does Rüdiger finally overcome his infatuation and break up with her for Anton's sake.
The legendary vampire has several appearances in the series as the overlord of the world's vampires. He eventually becomes a teacher for the Schlotterstein children, but he ultimately fails in his task.
- Elisabeth die Naschhafte (Elisabeth the Sweet-Toothed)
The leader of the German fraction of the world's vampires. At the end of the series, she chooses Anna von Schlotterstein to be her successor.
- Jörg der Aufbrausende (Jörg the Irascible)
A young vampire with a bad temper who is part of Lumpi's Vampire Men's Club.
Der kleine Vampir has proved quite successful both domestically and internationally. Over 12 million of these children’s books have been sold, and they were translated into more than 30 languages. The little vampire’s adventures were also published in the form of audio books, comics, movies and musicals.
- The Little Vampire, a German-Canadian television series, featuring Gert Fröbe as Detective Gurrmeyer (Geiermeier) (original language: English)
- Der kleine Vampir – Neue Abenteuer ("The Little Vampire - New Adventures"), a German 13 episode TV series based on the third and fourth volumes of the series, The Little Vampire Takes a Trip and The Little Vampire On the Farm.
- The Little Vampire, a German-Dutch-American motion picture, with the series' setting relocated to Scotland instead of Germany as in the original book series
Further reading 
- Gundel Mattenklott (1989), "Der kleine Vampir und Das Biest, das im Regen kam" (in German), Zauberkreide, Kinderliteratur seit 1945 (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler), ISBN 3-596-12053-5
- Swantje Ehlers (1992) (in German), Der kleine Vampir – Literarische Texte lesen lernen, München: Ernst Klett Verlag, ISBN 3-12-675550-X
- Matthew Bunson (1997) (in German), Das Buch der Vampire. Von Dracula, Untoten und anderen Fürsten der Finsternis – Ein Lexikon (1. ed.), Bern, München, Wien: Scherz Verlag, pp. 146, ISBN 3-502-15090-7