Reed, Gary. (2005). Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel. New York: Penguin Books.
Subgenre: Science Fiction/ Graphic Novel
This book is a graphic novel interpretation of Mary Shelley’s classic novel, Frankenstein. The novel is written on an upper elementary school grade level, but the content is more suitable for young adults. The book begins with an ill man describing the tragedies of his life to some sailors who had found him traveling. The ill man was named Victor Frankenstein. Victor tells the story of his wonderful childhood, and how he found the love of his life, Elizabeth, at a very early age. However, his life was changed dramatically when his mother died as he was preparing to attend a university. His mother’s death made him question death, and his love of science led him to create a creature from the parts of dead humans. However, his creature did not turn out as planned, and was actually a dangerous man-like monster with amazing strength and intelligence. Victor did not know what to do with this monster, and he ran away in fear. All that the monster wanted was to be accepted and loved, but no humans would accept him because of his looks and strange actions. The monster then went on a killing spree, and killed every human who was close to Victor. In the end, Victor died of a broken heart, as all that he loved had been taken from him, and the monster ran away and also died.
Personal Reactions/ Why a Teen Would Read this Novel:
I am not a huge fan of graphic novels, personally. I can definitely see why they are popular with children and young adults, but I would not choose to read a graphic novel just for pleasure. I find them difficult to follow, and I do not enjoy the simplicity of the text. However, this book was easy to follow, and the graphics helped to enhance the plot. The vocabulary in this text was simple, but more difficult words were written in bold. Overall, this book was a quick read, as there were just a few sentences per page, but I would prefer to read a novel with more detail. I have never read the Shelley’s Frankenstein, but the graphic novel did peak my interest in the story, so I may want to go read that next!
I believe that an older child or teen would enjoy reading this book. As I said, the text is simple and easy to understand, and there are not many words on a page. Struggling readers would appreciate the simple vocabulary that describes a complex story like Frankenstein. The graphics and comic book like features of this novel really appeal to the younger reader, and in my experiences, male students seem to be drawn to the graphic novel. Although this type of literature is not my personal favorite, I can definitely see the reasons why they are popular and I think they would be appropriate to use in the classroom.
Library Lesson/ Collaboration with Classroom Teacher:
Although I have not read the original Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, I think the graphic novel lends itself to being used in the library as a method of comparing and contrasting two different versions of a story. As a media coordinator, I could collaborate with a classroom English teacher to prepare a series of lessons on comparing and contrasting. Students could read both the original novel, Frankenstein, and the graphic novel in their English classes, and then come to the library to work on various literacy skills.
After students read the novel, I would work with the classroom teacher to schedule a three week unit to analyze the works of literature in the media center. To start the unit, students would make a Venn diagram, comparing and contrasting the two different versions of the story, in small groups. I would then regroup the students and have them share their similarities and differences with the other groups, and we would create a large Venn diagram together. Based on what the students came up with in their groups, I would then use the information to dig further into what makes a graphic novel enjoyable to students. We would discuss the text features (dialogue, bold print, graphics, etc) and how those features affect the readability of the novel. We would discuss plot development, sequencing, and character development in the graphic novel, and how that relates to the original novel. Finally, after several classes of analyzing the similarities and differences in the two different versions, I would allow students to create a brief graphic novel based on another short story they have read in class. Students would not be able to make a full length graphic novel, but they would be able to make a short story work. We would use a comic making website to finalize and publish the works for the students. The teacher and I would be observing the students as they created their own graphic novel, and would grade the students based on a rubric that we created.