Robot Zombie Frankenstein! is an enjoyable picture book for young children aging anywhere from four to eight years old. Written by Annette Simon and published by Candlewick Press in 2012 in Somerville, Massachusetts, this book is perfect for story time with kids. The illustrations in this work were not hand drawn. The Robot Zombie Frankenstein! illustrations were created digitally in QuarkXPress. With bright colors and an interesting story line, children are sure to enjoy this book. Robot Zombie Frankenstein! can be found online and in most bookstores; i.e. Target and Barnes and Nobles Bookstores.
In this entertaining children’s book, readers are given the opportunity to learn. Not only does the book touch base on the appearance and desire of Frankenstein’s creature, it also teaches shapes! Children can discuss what shapes are seen throughout the book. However, it does not hold true to the story of Frankenstein. For example, Frankenstein in this adaptation is not the actual Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s novel. The author of this book creates Robot Zombie Frankenstein intending for him to be the creature, but instead she calls him Frankenstein. Each robot dresses up as Frankenstein’s creature in a competition to out-do the other. Although she mistakes the identity of Victor Frankenstein, she captures the most important characteristic of the novel: the creatures desire to have a friend.
Robot Zombie Frankenstein! is a quick read. The hardcover has forty pages with roughly eighty four words throughout the book. There is not a lot of substance or referral to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus. If readers do not know of the story of Frankenstein, this book will not change that fact. The only similarity to the original text is the creature’s desire for a friend. Although the text does not contain much substance, the pictures in the book are very colorful and extremely large. This book would be amusing for young children.
The theme of friendship can be found in many Frankenstein adaptations. In Mary Shelley’s novel, the creature asks Victor for a mate, and this shows up in an abridged version of Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus as well (McFadden, 98). From the beginning of the creature’s existence it is clear he desires a companion. Annette Simon’s book, Robot Zombie Frankenstein! shows the creature’s desire for a friend while taking a different approach.
With Robot Zombie Frankenstein! being a children’s picture book, the character of “Frankenstein” does not ask for a mate. At the end of the hardcover, Frankenstein and another Robot are having a competition; it is during this time that he asks if they can be robot buddies (Simon, 28). The book abruptly comes to an end when the robots become friends.
In this unique adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, two robots are having a competition. Each robot is trying to outdo and out dress the other. One adds articles to his attire making himself a Robot Zombie, and the other Robot makes himself into a Robot Zombie Frankenstein (Simon, 8). As the competition goes on, the robots add more to their appearance. The competition shows how humans have the desire to outdo one another. In the end, the robots are brought together with pie. One robot has the pie, while the other has the fork. They end their competition and become buddies.
Annette Simon’s, Robot Zombie Frankenstein! was received surprisingly well. Although this book did not closely follow Mary Shelley’s story line, one reader enjoyed the overall concept and found it “useful for story time.” However, another reviewer found the book “… dumb… and complete nonsense.” The purpose of this book is to teach shapes, young readers will likely spend most of their time focusing on the colors and outlines throughout the illustrations in the book. School Library Journal touts, “A highly entertaining method of introducing a concept … Great fun!”
Significance of Adaptation
Annette Simon pokes fun at the human desire to be number one in her irreplaceable picture book (Publishers Weekly). In comparison to other Frankenstein children’s novels, this book cannot be put in the same category. In the Frankenstein spectrum, Robot Zombie Frankenstein! does not mesh well with other adaptations because it does not stay true to the original novel. Other adaptations such as Frankenstein Takes the Cake, and Classic Starts: Frankenstein use text or examples from the original novel to tie their stories together; while this book does not. The character of Frankenstein in this book is Frankenstein’s creature.
The chief notable aspect found in this book is the use of shapes to assemble the robots. Once the reader opens the book, they will see several shapes with their names underneath. Each shape is used throughout the book. Instead of using this as a reference to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus it should be used more for learning shapes and colors.
References and Suggestions for Further Reading
Levy, Elizabeth. Frankenstein Moved in on the Fourth Floor. 1st ed. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc. Text. 1981.
Publishers Weekly. “Children’s Book Review: Robot Zombie Frankenstein!” Web. 9 April. 2015. http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7636-5124-4
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Susan J. Wolfson. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. 2nd ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007 Print.
Simon, Annette. Robot Zombie Frankenstein! Massachusetts: Candlewick Press. Text. 2012 http://annettesimon.net/robot-zombie-frankenstein/