Frankenstein Takes the Cake is another classic children’s book by Adam Rex. From the amazing illustrations also done by Adam Rex, this book is sure to be an enjoyable read for children. This book was published in 2008 by Sandpiper, a trademark of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company in New York, New York. Frankenstein Takes the Cake was originally published in hardcover in the United States by Harcourt Children’s Books, also an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company in 2008.
The book is available in both hardcover and paperback, and can be purchased online and at most bookstores.
Frankenstein Takes the Cake by Adam Rex is filled with colorful illustrations and an entertaining story line. Readers will most likely emit screams of laughter while reading this book. The illustrations in this book were done in pencil, charcoal, oils, and in Photoshop using a Wacom tablet (Rex, 44). The book reads like a magazine; with blogs, ads, and comic strips. From cover to cover, young readers will come in contact with many well-known characters. Dracula, the Mummy, Frankenstein’s creature, the bride of Frankenstein, the Headless Horseman, and a famous poet all appear in this well designed work.
Although in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus the creature does not have a name and the only Frankenstein in the book is Victor Frankenstein; Rex’s adaptation takes a different approach. The creature in Frankenstein Takes the Cake is Frankenstein’s monster, and his name is Frankenstein. Targeted towards children, this book does not evoke fear; instead, its goal is to make readers laugh. This text does not follow Mary Shelley’s version verbatim, but Adam Rex captures personality characteristics of the creature. For example, Frankenstein’s fears are present in parts of the picture book. Young readers can become familiar with the innocent version of Frankenstein, and possibly in the future read Mary Shelley’s novel.
Frankenstein Takes the Cake is comprised of multiple stories. The book begins with characters poking fun at the reader’s appearance and assumes the reader is Frankenstein, and as the book progresses other stories unfold. Readers are able to sympathize more with the character in Rex’s book because he is humanized. Frankenstein is able to speak and show emotion; he is not frightening. One might remember Frankenstein’s desire for a friend, in this hardcover Frankenstein finally finds a mate and gets married!
In Frankenstein Takes the Cake by Adam Rex, there is humor throughout the entire book. The cover of the book says “Frankenstein Takes the Cake, Which is full of funny stuff like rotting heads and giant gorillas and zombies dressed as little girls and Edgar Allan Poe. The book, we mean-not the cake.” From the very beginning readers can tell they will enjoy this book. On the first page the characters poke fun at the reader’s appearance, making comments such as “…You do not look so good,” and “…You’re a lot shorter than usual. And less green.” The characters assume the reader is Frankenstein, the creature.
In the first story within this book, Frankenstein and his soon to be bride are meeting with her parents about the wedding. When they arrive at her parent’s house, the humor continues. The mother says, “After all I’ve done arranging for your funeral and flowers, and you’re only dead for-what? An afternoon? A couple hours?” The mother continues on with the conversation complaining about how much the funeral cost, and now they have to plan her wedding (Rex, 9).
Every story in this work is filled with satire and humor. In this book satire and humor is used to discuss topics that come up in several novels without being serious. For example, from all adaptions of Frankenstein, the creature is afraid of fire. This topic is approached in Frankenstein Takes the Cake saying, “…We’re no longer serving the cherries flambé. Yes, I know this is coming right down to the wire, but the Frankenstein family has problems with fire.”
Poetry appears from beginning to end in Adam Rex’s hilarious book. The use of poetry allows readers to take a different approach when learning about the characters. The book is educational without appearing to be. For example, in one story, the Headless Horseman appears. He has a blog called “Off the Top of my Head,” and the title of his first post is “Please Stop Staring at My Delicious Head” (Rex, 12). Chef’s, crows, and bakers want to make use of the pumpkin on top of his head. He says, “All these grandmas won’t leave me alone. They surround me and talk about muffins and bread.”
Readers can also learn the fears of the creatures. Wolf-men hate silverware, the Frankenstein family has a problem with fire, and do not give vampires garlic. The poetry in this book teaches young readers basic facts about well-known characters. When it comes to the marriage, the bride of Frankenstein writes her own vows (Rex, 38). She says “…When we met, I’ll admit, I came off a bit…shy. But he fondled my hand and sighed, ‘You good. Us wed?’ And he’s sweet and he’s tall, so I’ll marry the guy.” This poem reiterates the creature’s same desire for a mate that can be found in Mary Shelley’s novel.
Written by Adam Rex, the Author and Illustrator of the New York Times Bestselling Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, this is another spot on approach. It referred as a “fiendishly funny picture book.” Publishers weekly even stated, “With maniacal glee, Rex delivers spot-on rhymes about B-movie monsters.” This book is loved by many and is an entertaining read for most ages.
Significance of Adaptation
This adaptation most likely helped bring many texts back into circulation. The creature has appeared in many different types of media since his debut in Mary Shelley’s classic novel (Powell, 99). Given that the novel is not merely focused on Frankenstein, readers can gain a broad spectrum of basic information and be entertained at the same time.
The adaptations most notable quality is how the novel plays out. From the beginning it becomes apparent that this novel will unfold like many others. It does not follow one storyline; moreover, each chapter covers a different topic. In one chapter Edgar Allan Poe is doing a crossword puzzle, and on the very next page there is a haiku about dragon’s (Rex, 22). The book keeps reader’s contemplating what will come next in the novel.
In comparison to other children’s novels, Frankenstein Takes the Cake does not use a great deal of information from Mary Shelley’s novel. Due to this book not focusing solely on the creature and not being able to distinguish between him and Victor Frankenstein correctly, it does not give readers a good literary foundation to stand on. If readers, parents, or teachers are looking for a highly educational book, this would most likely not be the best choice.
References and Suggestions for Further Reading
Publishers Weekly. "Children's Book Review: Frankenstein Takes the Cake." Web. 10 Apr. 2015. 
Powell, Martin. Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel. California: Pulp 2.0 Press. Text. 1 March 2013.http://pulp2ohpress.com/
Rex, Adam. "Adam Rex." Frankencake. N.p., 2008. Web. 11 Apr. 2015. http://adamrex.blogspot.com/search/label/frankencake
Rex, Adam. Frankenstein Takes the Cake. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Text. 2008.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Susan J. Wolfson. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. 2nd ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007 Print.