Title: Mary, Who Wrote Frankenstein
Contributors: Linda Bailey and Júlia Sardà
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book, Biography, Historical
Publisher: Tundra Books
(Penguin Random House Canada)
Date published: August 28, 2018
A physical copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
The story of the girl behind one of the most well-known novels — and monsters — ever, perfectly timed for the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein.
How does a story begin? Sometimes it begins with a dream, and a dreamer. Mary is one such dreamer, a little girl who learns to read by tracing the letters on her mother’s tombstone and whose only escape from her strict father and overbearing stepmother is through the stories she reads and imagines. Unhappy at home, she seeks independence, and at the age of seventeen runs away with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, another dreamer. She travels to Europe and surrounds herself with more poets and writers, including Lord Byron and John Polidori. On a stormy summer evening, Byron suggests a contest to see who can create the best ghost story. After nine months of daydreaming, 21-year-old Mary Shelley’s terrifying tale is published, a novel that goes on to become a very well-known monster story.
I’ve definitely been enjoying all of the Frankenstein and Mary Shelley related books that have been coming out this year because of Frankenstein‘s 200th anniversary, and this book was no exception. I was very impressed with how Mary’s story was adapted for children, while also keeping a lot of the dark elements in place. The artist’s style definitely works with this adaptation, as well as the tone, in my opinion. I absolutely love the mix of dark and warm mediums, and really like how all of the elements look as if the artist used decoupage (cutting and gluing paper) to put the images together.
Again, I like that some of the dark elements of the story were kept in place even though this book is for children, because I remember reading some darker stories like this when I was young as well, and those stories definitely stuck with me. Since I’m a lover of the classics, I’d ideally like if my children read books that stuck with them as well (especially the main premises of classic books)! I also wouldn’t want them to be too afraid to pick up some creepy books! So, this is definitely a book that I will be recommending to my future children (probably more so during the autumn months and around Halloween).
[Linda Bailey] was born and grew up in Winnipeg —a daydreamer with her nose in a book. In [her] twenties, [she] travelled around the world, mostly by ship. Later, [she] moved to Vancouver, where [she] earned a B.A. and M.Ed. at the University of British Columbia. Among [her] jobs were travel agent, college teacher, instructional designer and editor. For years, [she] dabbled with writing. But [she] didn’t begin to write in earnest until [she] had two young daughters. [Her] first book was published in 1992, and [she had] since written more than thirty others, including novels, picture books and non-fiction. [She lives] in Vancouver, a short walk from the sea. [She writes] full-time and still [loves] to travel, read and daydream.
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