POISON APPLE #8: AT FIRST BITE. By Ruth Ames. For ages 9-12. Scholastic Paperbacks. 192 pages. $5.99.

Moving to a new school can be tough enough without having to deal with vampires, too. If you happen to be a popular 12-year-old girl in your New York City school who happens to find it increasingly difficult to hide your vampirism, moving to Santa Monica, Calif., might seem like a fresh start.

Things don't get easier for Ashlee Lambert, though. Upon arriving in California, she immediately discovers vampires really are sensitive to the sun and the popular clique in school is very mean.

She still has trouble "bat-shifting" on her own terms, has to secretly drink a blood substitute and can't reveal her secret to anyone. So she is feeling pretty alone until she takes the job as "wardrobe master" for the school play, "At First Bite."

Strange and dangerous things are happening around her school, but with the help of some new friends, Ashlee may just uncover a dark vampire and save her friends from becoming its next meal. Although this tale is a mystery about vampires, the creepy factor stays pretty low.

"Poison Apple" fans will enjoy this new addition to the series.

McGeath Freeman reviews children's books for Lowcountry Parent magazine. To see previous reviews, visit www.lowcountryparent.com.