Halloween is less than 10 days away and we’ve been busy consuming spooky themed stories in our house. Today’s book is what I would call spooky-silly, as it’s a compilation of short stories, poems, songs and comic strips about the classic ghoulish characters found throughout history: mummies, zombies, Bigfoot and Yeti, among other creepy types.
Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, by Adam Rex, is a book that I only bring out in October, to make the Halloween season special. I also think it’s a book that really only makes sense for this time of year, unless of course, you happen to have a kiddo in your life that is obsessed with spook year round! I think it works best when it’s read over the course of several nights, along with another book, as the short snippets might be a bit jarring for kids who are used to picture books that offer clear resolution within less than 30 pages.
Within this book you’ll find the titular story of Frankenstein’s (or Frankenstein’s Monster, as purists will point out) quest to make a sandwich for lunch. In order to gather the ingredients necessary, he sets out to borrow from his neighbors. This doesn’t go well, considering what we know about how humans feels toward him in other iterations of this story. In the end, Frankenstein has his lunch, and his neighbors keep their lives!
The Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Invisible Man and Count Dracula are immortalized in short, rhyming poems that show that even monsters struggle with the same everyday challenges as you and me. Such struggles include swimming too soon after eating, getting a haircut and having spinach stuck in your teeth. The solidarity of these everyday moments of strife will find you and your child relating to characters in ways you never thought possible.
Interspersed throughout the book is a running gag involving songs about the Phantom of the Opera, set to popular tunes. If you’re anything like me, it might take a few moments to find the rhythm of the song you’re meant to be emulating but perhaps that’s just my lack of musical ability showing. Tunes include It’s a Small World After All, Pop Goes the Weasel and The Girl From Ipanema. Be prepared to get into it and to be over the top silly!
There’s a fun bit about how both the Yeti and Bigfoot are appalled that humans always assume that the two famed monsters are interchangeable. The Yeti is known for his powerful stench and lives in the mountains of Asia. Bigfoot is known for his broad stature and stalks the woodlands of North America. Come on, people! Show some respect to these mighty, mythical beasts.
There’s even a three page spread celebrating (?) the common dentist, a figure that humans of all ages may fear at one point or another. In this case, we tag along to Dracula’s son’s first cleaning, with a dentist who turns out to be quite lovely. But young Drac isn’t soothed by her loveliness; instead he morphs into a bat at the first mention of a filling. He’s not falling for this lady’s tricks. During his flee from the drill, he accepts an offer of a lollipop. He’s hoping for blood or liver flavoring but nope, just cherry. Yuck!
A short story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde may be your child’s first introduction to the ill-fated characters, however, this story has a twist. Dr. Jekyll is distracted while mixing the potion and rather than becoming the evil Mr. Hyde, he becomes the dull Mr. Henderson. On the way to a fancy ball, he realizes his mistake just before entering the room. But alas, what’s done is done so he attends the party as Henderson, boring the guests practically to death. The story ends with an eye-glazingly tedious tale that you can really get into.
I hope you and your kids will enjoy the complete lack of seriousness in this book. It gives you a chance as the reader to cut loose and embrace the silliness of the stories and allows kids to indulge in monster stories that make them giggle, rather than scream. If you enjoy this title, Frankenstein also stars in Rex’s Frankenstein Takes the Cake, loosely based on the monster’s wedding to his lovely bride.