cover image Happy Birthday, Frankie

Happy Birthday, Frankie

Sarah Weeks. Laura Geringer Book, $14.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027965-3

Shoes, screws and mechanical hands lie scattered across the endpapers of this picture book, which posits a do-it-yourself Frankenstein. The monster-making kit comes in a big cardboard box, accompanied by instructions (""Screw elbow (A) to (B) to arm.... glue zipper (C) to head assembly""). As a scientist tries and fails to put the parts together, clever collage illustrations reveal the misbegotten results: ""The leg bone's connected to the... Oh, dear. The arm bone's connected to the... Nope."" At last, Frankie is complete; his blue skull is zippered, his eyes and nose are in place and his corrugated-cardboard limbs swivel properly. Unfortunately, he blows out his birthday candle with such gusto that he disassembles his creator--the book ends with an image of a puzzled Frankie with a wrench in hand. Held together by glue, gesso and a few photocopied rivets, debut illustrator Linn's asymmetrical paint-and-cut-paper monster recalls Henrik Drescher's sinister clip-and-paste images. Weeks (Mrs. McNosh Hangs up Her Wash) keeps the narration to a bare minimum and lets the pictures do most of the storytelling. Kids will relish the goofy use of a favorite song, and they'll appreciate the brio of Linn's postmodern high jinks. Ages 3-7. (Aug.)