May 9, 2014

[Book Review] Frankenstein Doesn't Plant Petunias (The Adventures Of The Bailey School Kids, #6) by Debbie Dadey & Marcia Thornton Jones


There are some pretty weird grown-ups living in Bailey City. But could the very tall man who likes flowers really be Frankenstein's monster?

The Bailey School Kids are going to find out!



Frankenstein Doesn't Plant Petunias marks the first time that The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids has tackled a literary figure, as opposed to the mythical they normally cover--vampires, werewolves, Santa, leprechauns, and ghosts so far. And despite the title, Frankenstein Doesn't Plant Petunias goes to the trouble of clarifying for its young audience the difference between Dr. Frankenstein the mad scientist and Frankenstein's monster itself; both characters are present in the story, with Dr. Frankenstein using the name Dr. Victor and Frankenstein's monster using the name Frank--except, of course, when the kids are trying to figure out whether or not these two "weird grown-ups" are really Shelley's characters.

All in all, it's a very juvenile representation of the monster, which is obviously to be expected since it's a children's chapter book; you're not going to find significant exploration of Shelley's original themes here. Instead, children who read the book are going to be introduced to Frankenstein's monster as an enigma: is he--here referred to as "Frank"--simply a mentally disabled individual, afflicted with some kind of intellectual handicap or developmental disorder? Or is he a flawed creation of the the obviously mad Dr. Victor? Either way, he's certainly treated as a sympathetic character, ultimately misunderstood though frightening to the (admittedly imaginative) child characters.

If your child is familiar with the Frankenstein story, Frankenstein Doesn't Plant Petunias could be a fun stepping stone toward eventually tackling Shelley's novel. If your child isn't familiar with the basic plotline or at least the character, however, I recommend checking out a children's adaptation first.



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