Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody

Rick Walton, Author, Nathan Hale, Illustrator
Rick Walton, illus. by Nathan Hale. Feiwel and Friends, $14.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-312-55366-1
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Walton (Baby’s First Year!) and Hale (Animal House) beat Goodnight Goon parodist Michael Rex to a 1939 classic: Ludwig Bemelmans’s Madeline. Playing on the Americanized rhyme between Madeline and Frankenstein, Walton and Hale style themselves as “Ludworst Bemonster” and recast the Parisian girls’ school as a ghoulish academy: “In a creepy old castle all covered with spines,/ lived twelve ugly monsters in two crooked lines.... The ugliest one was Franken-stein.” Instead of headmistress Miss Clavel, readers get Miss Devel, a pallid scientist who sleeps on a gurney; instead of appendicitis, Frankenstein suffers from a missing head, and a voodoo doctor attaches a replacement. Frankenstein’s classmates—including a mini-Dracula, mummy, and swamp thing—are so impressed by Franken-stein’s new neck screws, they follow his example and lose their heads in the book’s inconclusive conclusion. Walton and Hale mime Bemelmans’s poetry and lithography, amplifying the grotesque and picturing stone castles in autumnal shades of pumpkin and ash. Fans of the original—unsettling in its own right, for its lack of parents and predictable comforts—will enjoy spotting the parallels in this creepy-cute Halloween substitute. Ages 4–8. (July)
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