Written and Illustrated by Neil Numberman
Greenwillow Books, 2009
Gather round! Gather round! I have very important advice to give!
The plot in a nutshell: A boy shares words of caution.
The new boy, who has just moved into town, steps onto a crate and tells all the gathered children not to build a Frankenstein. He tells them that he knows this from experience, after years of research and preparation. He tells them it’s fun at first, but that it can get troublesome when he scares your friends and breaks your toys. And he won’t leave you alone, either. You might even have to move to a whole new town just to get away from him. As he repeats his advice, Frankenstein pops up from behind the trees behind him. At first, all the children are shocked, but then he proposes a game of monster tag and they’re all off playing together.
Author/illustrator Neil Numberman has several illustrating credits under his belt, but this was his first time stepping into the author’s seat. I know there are people out there who are really bothered by the use of ‘Frankenstein’ as the monster’s name and not the creator’s name, as in the original Mary Shelley book. The story is fun and silly, so I see no reason to quibble over something like that. The boy is presented as an avid reader and researcher, so you get the idea that he’s familiar with the original story.
The watercolor artwork matches the cartoonish feel of the book and sets the whole scene in a snowy landscape that plays up the green of the monster when he enters at the end. I really like that the boy, who has spent the whole book warning kids against the monster, runs off to play with him at the end. To me, it makes the whole thing feel like a typical child’s argument that is easily set aside when it’s time to go play again. It’s a fun idea that plays out unexpectedly.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that it’s always a good idea to think about the long term consequences of your actions.