CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 38. . . . June 1, 2018
Two-hundred years ago, a young 18-year-old's dreamed-up, spine-tingling story, Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus, was first published. Thirteen years later, the author, Mary Shelley, recounted how the story came to be in an "Author's Introduction".
In Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein, Linda Bailey and Jślia Sardą have transformed Mary's recount of her inspiration behind Frankenstein into a captivating picture book. The peculiar family dynamics, influential people, and life-changing adventures of Mary's life are told in a whimsical and intriguing way.
Mary was only 11-days-old when her mother died. Her strict and stiff father remarried a woman whom Mary disliked and who disliked her. Famous people visited their London home, one of them being Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whose odd and ghostly poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, stuck with her for the rest of her life. After being sent away to live with a family in Scotland for a couple of years, Mary returned home only to take off soon after with a brilliant young poet named Percy Bysshe Shelley and her stepsister. On their travels, they came across a ruined castle called Castle Frankenstein. Hmm... that name sounds familiar!
Eighteen months later, the trios travels took them to Switzerland where they met Lord Byron, a famous poet. One stormy evening, ghost stories were shared, and a challenge for everyone to come up with their own ghost story was set forth. Mary struggled with coming up with an idea. That is, until she overheard an odd conversation between Shelley and Byron that sparked her imagination into a sleepless night filled with dead body parts and an unsightly monster. It was then when the story of Frankenstein was born.
Bailey transports the reader back to the early eighteen hundreds when Mary lived. Significant moments and experiences are described in such a way that readers feel as though they are living in Mary's shoes and imagining the makings of Frankenstein in their minds. The Author's Note at the end of the book goes into more detail about Mary's life and how Bailey was inspired to create this picture book.
Sardą's illustrations of the characters, their attire, and the buildings are reflective of the eighteen hundreds. The eerie, dark illustrations set the tone for the gloomy, stormy evenings and the overall feel of the book.
Bailey is an award-winning author of children's books, including Goodnight, Sweet Pig, Carson Crosses Canada, If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur, among many others. She has written several books about a dog named Stanley, which were inspired by her own dog. Bailey was born and grew up in Winnipeg, MB, and now lives in Vancouver, BC.
Sardą has illustrated everything from concept art for video games to children's books, including some well-known classics, such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She lives in Barcelona, Spain.
Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein shows how a book can be imagined and created through the inspiration of personal experiences and daydreams. It is a book that will inspire readers that they, too, can become writers by tapping into their own experiences and imaginations!
Kelsey Sukich is a French-immersion teacher in the Seven Oaks School Division in Winnipeg, MB.