Books Early Readers Genre Horror and Deliverance in Books Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes

Frankenstein for Children by Author-Illustrators

Michael Hall and Patrick McDonnell

Myra here.

A few days back, we launched our October – December reading theme:

Horror and Deliverance In Books

We are on the look-out for books that fit the following deliberately-nebulous criteria:

  1. horror and scary stories
  2. everyday horrors that human beings face and conquer
  3. monsters and monstrosity
  4. stories that provide deliverance and redemption
  5. tales that show both darkness and light

I am glad to be pairing these two delightful creepy picturebooks that focus on the nature of monsters and monstrosity – and yes, Frankenstein for Children!

Frankencrayon [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written and Illustrated by Michael Hall Published by Greenwillow Books (2016) ISBN: 9780062252128 (ISBN10: 0062252127) Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

This book published in 2016 begins with the delightful premise that the “book has been canceled.” I immediately Googled when the so-called “cancel culture” started, and it was apparently back in 2015, which makes me think that Hall’s choice of words was deliberate.

Given the crayons’ murmurings of discontent with the book being discontinued, they need to naturally tell the story as to why the book is being canceled in the first place. Brilliant! Naturally, they had to start from the beginning, with all the characters in their proper place, and Frankencrayon waiting to jump out at the exact right moment in page 22.

I love the suspense, the pacing, the overall voice of this picturebook: one of those titles that is just begging to be read aloud with expected squeals and giggles from wide-eyed and attentive young readers.

It appears that the culprit is an ugly scribble that keeps on getting bigger and bigger, convincing the characters that they have created a monster! Hence, the appearance of Frankencrayon in page 22, on cue of course, was almost anti-climactic. The way that Frankencrayon dealt with the monstrous ever-growing scribble had ME convinced that Michael Hall of Red: A Crayon’s Story (Amazon | Book Depository) fame is a genius.

Have you read this book to young readers? What did they think of it?

The Monsters’ Monster [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written and Illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers (2012)
ISBN: 9780316045476 (ISBN10: 0316045470) Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

Once there lived three little monsters who are forever competing and arguing as to who is the baddest, fiercest, and most miserable among them. They are aptly named Grouch, Grump, and two-headed Little Gloom ‘n’ Doom.

To end the debate, the monsters decided to create the monster to end all monsters: it is going to be “the biggest, baddest monster ever” their very own version of Frankenstein.

Oftentimes, however, what we set out to make does not usually end up being what we envisioned. As the pop song goes: “we don’t always get what we want, but we get what we need.” This is another delightful story that is brimming with so much humor and childlike glee. It has all the makings of a classic. I cannot believe I have only read this now, seeing that it was published in 2012. Definitely a keeper.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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