Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein is a picture book written by Linda Bailey and illustrated by Juliet Sarda. I was excited about the opportunity to read this book because I wanted to share it with my girls. They always enjoy the books I receive, and their feedback is useful in helping me write my reviews.
This is a children’s biography about Mary Shelley, the woman who wrote Frankenstein. Because this is a picture book rather than a chapter book, there is a limited amount of space in which to convey a great deal of information. Mary’s childhood is briefly covered; most notably, that she hid behind the sofa to listen to Coleridge recite the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Much of the book covers her relationship with Percy Bysshe Shelley and the circumstances that led to her inspiration for writing Frankenstein. The prose is quite evocative, and one can quite easily picture spending rainy days in a castle with two of England’s most famous poets. The book ends with the enduring legacy of the Frankenstein story.
Because this book is intended for children, Percy Shelley presents as adventurous and benign, and not nearly as much of a dirtbag as he was in real life. The book skips over the salacious details of their courtship as well as the tragic loss of three of her children in infancy.
The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. Sarda uses a subdued palette, and the realistic illustrations conjure up ghostly imagery that pairs nicely with the morose story.
I read this book with my nine-year-old twins, and they liked this book. It held their attention, and they liked looking at the pictures. They have heard of Frankenstein before, so this was a good opportunity to introduce them to the story behind one of the most famous horror novels, in all its gothic glory.
I would absolutely recommend Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein for middle grade readers. 2018 marks the 100 year anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, so there has been a resurgence of interest in Mary Shelley. This is an interesting- albeit sanitized- look at Mary’s life and the inspiration for writing Frankenstein.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book.