Mary and Frankenstein by Linda Bailey and Júlia Sardà

Mary and Frankenstein.jpg

This year sees the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and there have been a number of publications and a feature film focusing on Mary herself as well as on the creature she had Dr Frankenstein create.

In this picture book, Linda Bailey tells Mary’s story focusing on the salient details of interest to young people using an immediacy of language - short sentences, the present tense and a direct address to the reader. The significance of reading and imagination in Mary’s childhood frame the story. We learn of the influence of her father William Godwin and more particularly her mother Mary Wollstonecraft whose ideas about women’s rights and freedom lived on for her daughter, even though she died when the latter was a few days old. The centrepiece of the book is the meeting of minds at the villa near Lake Geneva where Mary, her stepsister Claire, the poets Shelley and Byron and Dr Polidori challenge each other to write ghost stories and from whence the idea for Frankenstein came.

The images in Júlia Sardà’s illustrations are delineated in a suitably dark palette of predominantly black, brown, grey and blood red, conveying the Gothic mood of the story.

While this book is appropriate for primary schools, it would be appreciated by readers in secondary schools who could also be introduced to Lita Judge’s Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein (Wren & Rook £12.99 9781526360410) a biography in verse and to Chris Priestley’s novel Mister Creecher (Bloomsbury £7.99 9781408811054). And there’s a new edition of Frankenstein aimed at teenagers with an introduction by film director Haifaa Al Mansour (Penguin ‘The Originals’ series £7.99 9780241321645).

Andersen Press 9781783446797