The Legacy of Mary Shelley and Her Monster 200 Years Later

Selected and annotated by Stacia McKeever
July/August 2018

 

This spotlight bibliography is a celebration of the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and includes interpretations and reimaginings, as well as some Shelley biographies. Books are intended for readers ranging from grades 6-12.

 

Carroll, Emma. Strange Star. Delacorte, 2018. 240p. Gr. 6-9.

It is a rainy night at Villa Diodati in 1816, and Lord Byron is hosting a dinner party for his neighbors, who include Mary and Percy Shelley, with the one condition that guests must share a ghost story meant to “freeze the blood.” As the night winds down a girl with strange scars appears unexpectedly in search of her sister; as she explains what has brought her there, the guests realize they could all be in danger. Carroll delivers her own riveting version of the story behind Shelley’s Frankenstein complete with strong female characters and the message that you should never judge others by their appearance.

Judge, Lita. Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein; written and illus. by Lita Judge. Roaring Brook, 2018. 320p. Gr. 8-12.

Judge’s novel in verse narrates the passionate and tumultuous story of Mary Shelley and how her monster came to be. Mary’s haunting internal struggles are revealed in the art through layered transparent washes of gray that contrast with more solid depictions of her and her surroundings. The overall dreariness of the illustrations foreshadows the difficulties Mary will face and ultimately the creation of Frankenstein. Judge’s writing and illustrations are interwoven and fluid so that readers drift from page to page swept up in their stinging beauty. Includes source notes, bibliography, and a “What Became of Them” section for readers wanting to know more.

Reef, Catherine. Mary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator. Clarion, 2018. 224p. Gr. 7-10.

This illustrated biography of Mary Shelley is concise, full of drama, and reads like a fast-paced novel. From her relationship with Percy Shelley, to the writing of Frankenstein at age sixteen, Shelley’s story is unique. Readers will pore over the details of her dark, romantic, and tragic life. Includes source notes, bibliography, an index, and a list of works.

Priestley, Chris. Mister Creecher. Bloomsbury, 2011. 320p. Gr. 7–10.

Billy, an orphan living in the streets of London in 1818, gets by relying on pickpocketing and quick thinking. Creecher is a dead looking, foul smelling giant, who has a hard time blending in. When their paths unexpectedly cross, a relationship based on convenience emerges; Billy agrees to help Creecher follow Victor Frankenstein and Mr. Clervan, and in exchange, Creecher will join Billy’s thieving operation providing intimidation and protection. As their journey continues ever north and the two learn more about each other, their dynamic changes; with friendship, betrayal, and suspense this reinvention of Frankenstein is perfect for fans of horror who also love classics.

Rex, Adam. Frankenstein Takes the Cake; written and illus. by Adam Rex. Harcourt, 2008. 40p. Gr. 3–7.

Rex weaves together 16 poems that alternate between characters and presentation from graphic novel to comic to picture book. While the Frankenstein wedding stands front and center, side storylines are equally compelling: Edgar Allan Poe can’t catch a break as he suffers from writer’s block and gets heckled by ravens, and the Headless Horseman vents about the struggles of life with a pumpkin head in his blog, “Off the Top of My Head.” A variety of readers will find something to crack up over in these monster-inspired poems.

Shelley, Mary. Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein; ad. and illus. by Gris Grimly. Harper Collins, 2013. 193p. Gr. 7-12.

This graphic novel adaptation offers readers a visual entry point to Shelley’s Frankenstein. Grimly uses illustration to set the tone for each narrative; letters from Captain Walton are presented as handwritten ink on parchment, then the narrative shifts into graphic novel format. Panels following the narrative of Victor Frankenstein are light and positioned on a white page, creating a dramatic juxtaposition to the dark illustrations on black that narrate the troubled journey of the monster. Lively compositions allow for heightened emotions and keep the pages turning.