cover image Frances and the Monster

Frances and the Monster

Refe Tuma. HarperCollins, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-308576-3

In 1939 Switzerland, 11-year-old Frances Stenzel, who longs to join her famed scientist parents at a Brussels science symposium, is dismayed to be left behind as she always has been following the accident that took her ear seven years prior. This time, though, she’s left in the care of a specially engineered android tutor named Hobbes. Chafing under the attention of her indefatigable caretaker, inventive Frances searches for a way to power Hobbes down, and instead discovers her great-grandfather Grimme’s encoded journal and secret laboratory, which houses a corpse encased in ice. Deciphering the journal, Frances devises a way to complete Grimme’s final experiment: reanimating the body, which promptly escapes the manor into the nearby city of Bern. Wracked with regret and clad in a bow tie and fedora, Frances sets out in pursuit, aided by sardonic Hobbes; a kind local boy, Luca Frick; and Fritz, a chimpanzee with artificially enhanced intelligence. Bursting with wry humor and references to Frankenstein, Tuma’s (the What the Dinosaurs Did series) idiosyncratic, utterly original tale moves at breakneck speed through a richly imagined landscape, accumulating vividly rendered characters and settings—including a bear pit, a sewer, and the famous Zytglogge clock tower—while injecting considered discussions of modern themes such as gender roles and privilege. Characters are presumed white. Ages 8–12. Agent: Marlo Berliner, Jennifer De Chiara Literary. (Aug.)