The result was not expected: 11-year-old loved the humor, got most of the jokes, appreciated the satire, but frequently bound himself up in grammatical misreadings and inattention to requisite punctuation. Meanwhile, my 8-year-old was zoned out and bored, the humor so out of bounds from his own experience, and locked out by rather sophisticated grammar gymnastics.
Ipso facto: I like Frankenstein Takes the Cake. Maybe I like other things about the book too. And theres always the off chance that what I really like about is that its a picture book/poetry sequel that takes cool monsters and makes them loveable. Poems about monsters, a weird variety of artistic styles, and quickfire punches of humor along the way. Rex probably could have copied the format of his first book poem for poem and nobody would have blinked an eye. Other poems in the book discuss varied topics as the Headless Horsemans dilapidated head, the dangers of answering your door the day after Halloween, and alien spam. Then publication page isnt much help in listing them since all its says is, The illustrations in this book were done in pencil, charcoal, oils, and, in many cases, in Photoshop with a Wacom tablet. Theres a fellow straight out of an Egyptian painting, gorgeous Japanese inspired inked images, some graphite (I think), and a comic strip that is perhaps the best paean to Charles Schultz Ive seen in a long time. One of the advantages of having a versatile artist like Mr. Rex take a book like this in hand is that you can sometimes see the same character rendered in a variety of different styles. Frankenstein and the Headless Horseman are good examples of this (though Dracula gets the serious face time here that he lacked in the last title). Old favorite characters from the first book that didnt end up with their own poems appear in the group scenes during the wedding. If there is something to criticize about the book, it would have to be the poems themselves. Lines like But the poem Poe composes poses problems, cause he knows his / line on roses being roses has been written once before. If you arent swayed by the books backflap A Haiku about Adam Rex which reads, He knows Frankensteins / the doctor, not the monster. When I reviewed the first Frankenstein book, I pouted over Rexs overt use of random celebrities and pop culture. I was talking with a colleague about the first Frankenstein book the other day, and she happened to mention that the problem with the book is that libraries like to shelve it in the poetry section and not with the picture books.
The opening pages feature a fun interactive comic in which the reader is at first mistaken of identity, and after the confusion is cleared, they get the closer look they need andI wont spoil it for you. But it is a brilliant opening because it reminds fans and introduces the new readers to Rexs excellent sense of humor and comedic timingwhich he confirms, just in case, by following the comic with a letter from the author.
The only reason I'm giving it four stars instead of five is that I think the book is hard to market. My ten year old is pretty savvy and witty and artsy, but even she didn't fully appreciate the humor in it.
Still a fun read for any time of the year but definitely has a Halloween focused theme...vampires, witches, headless horseman and so on.
Like some other reviewers, I do question if this material would appeal to kids as much as it does to me, but as I am generally a selfish knave, such thoughts will not cause me to delete stars from my rating.
Can't wait to read his other books.
I'll pull it out again when my son studies "The Raven" at an age when he gets it better.
He took a lot of art classes as a kid, trying to learn to draw better, and started painting when he was 11. Adam is nearsighted, bad at all sports, learning to play the theremin, and usually in need of a shave.