Classic Starts, Frankenstein is a sensational new adaptation targeted towards young readers. Abridged by
Deanna McFadden, and illustrated by Jamel Akib, Frankenstein is shortened for easier reading for a younger audience, while still containing the excitement that made Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus a beloved favorite. Retold from the Mary Shelley original, this book targets children age 7 to 10, but can be read most audiences. This novel was published in 2006 by Sterling Publishing Company in New York, New York. Audiences can find this book in most bookstores and it can be ordered online as well.
Frankenstein as told by Classic Starts is an innocent version of Mary Shelley’s original text, lacking a great deal of romanticism. This version stays very true to Shelley’s text while still making it a book for young readers. With Classic Starts novels, “young readers can experience the wonder of timeless stories from an early age.” This is found true in this adaptation of Frankenstein.
A few well illustrated pictures appear in the text in order to help explain certain situations throughout the novel. The images are in black in white, and still hold true to the original Gothic feel of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Classic Starts, Frankenstein also contains fairly large print since the novel is targeting a younger audience. This novel opens the minds of young children, and helps them learn the classic version of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.
The book begins with Captain Robert Walton recounting his journey and time spent with Victor Frankenstein. As the novel progresses, the story of Victor Frankenstein and his creation of the monster unfolds. The creation story does not follow the original version verbatim, but the basic premise is present. The reader gets a toned down edition of Mary Shelley’s work. Heavily gory details are eliminated as to not terrify a younger audience. For example, Victor is not made out to be a villain in this account of the novel, and the creature does not brutally murder young William. Towards the end of the novel lies the same question as in the Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, will Victor build the creature a friend? When Victor refuses, the monster makes the same threat word for word, “I will be with you on your wedding night.” Although targeted towards a younger audience, this book allows readers to have a better understanding of the original account.
Education is one of the most important themes found in this abridged version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The same can be said about the original text as well. In Classic Starts Frankenstein Victor describes his personality and desires as a young child. He states, “I was a serious child with a very busy mind. I wanted to learn everything and anything.” This desire follows Victor throughout much of his adult life.
As Victor grows older and falls deeper into his studies, he focuses his fascination on the power of modern science and electricity (McFadden, 17). Victor constantly reads and takes copious notes, filling notebook after notebook with his thoughts (McFadden, 17). Victor strives to make a great discovery; time and money mean little to him. He thinks maybe he can save humankind from disease or stop a violent death and as time goes on and he furthers his education, he makes a discovery.
Years later while Victor is studying at the University, he discovers he can give life to lifeless matter (McFadden, 33). His next step is to decide what the world needs more; another animal or another man? Frankenstein soon decides that science would be best served if he created man (McFadden, 33). He devotes all of his time and work into building this man. One rainy night in November, the creature comes to life. Due to the creature’s appearance, Victor is horrified and immediately deserts him.
Feeling alone, the creature sets out into the wilderness. He slowly learns how to differentiate between his senses, and figures out how to survive. During this time, he comes in contact with the DeLacey’s. He is intrigued by them, so he watches the family and learns to speak by listening to them (McFadden, 91). The DeLacey’s also teach him how to interact with others. During this time it becomes apparent how human like the creature is with his desire to learn.
The theme of electricity can be found in many Frankenstein adaptations. In most children’s novels, electricity is the main theme. When explaining that Victor is interested in electricity instead of creating life, the character of Victor Frankenstein is less frightening than in the original version. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus Victor cares more about bringing life to lifeless matter (Shelley, 41).
One summer night at his family’s summerhouse, a violent storm breaks out. A bolt of lightning strikes a tree directly in front of him, causing the tree to split in half and burst into flames (McFadden, 18). At this time, he focuses his interest on electricity. He needs to know how “all that power found its way into a bolt of lightning.” Victor soon focuses his sights on using electricity to create man.
In most adaptations and in the original, electricity is used to bring the creature to life. Frankenstein is always using some type of electricity to conduct experiments. For example, in the children’s book Frankenstein Moved in on the Fourth Floor by Elizabeth Levy, Mr. Frank uses so much electricity while working on his project that he causes a power outage in the building.
The abridged version of Frankenstein published by Sterling Publishing Company has not earned any known awards, but the book has received several outstanding reviews. One reviewer states, “It is a great way to introduce young readers to classic novels. I also think that it would be a good way for teachers to introduce 2nd and 3rd graders to classic novels.” If there is a desire to learn about classic literature from a young age, children are sure to enjoy this version.
Significance of Adaptation
Classic Starts Frankenstein follows Mary Shelley’s original version closer than most adaptations. The book is targeted towards young children, so a few details are altered in order to make the story less frightening. Although shortened for children, this variation of Frankenstein still contains most of the excitement from the classic Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. This could be seen as one of the best children’s adaptations. The abridged version is less mature, but readers can still gain a basic understanding of Victor Frankenstein without being frightened of him, and in turn read the classic later on in life.
One aspect that is notable is the creature’s nature. Although Victor deserted him and he sought his revenge, the creature was able to sympathize with him. The creature comes across as being more human like in this novel. For example, the creature apologizes for everything he has done (McFadden, 145). The creature caused Victor, and in the end he apologizes for his wrong doings. In most adaptations, the creature does not apologize for anything he has done. He normally reasons with Victor and explains his actions, but he does not apologize. The creature showing remorse made it possible to sympathize with him.
References and Suggestions for Further Reading
Levy, Elizabeth. Frankenstein Moved in on the Fourth Floor. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc. Text. 1979.
McFadden, Deanna. Frankenstein: Retold from the Mary Shelley Original. New York: Sterling Publishing Company Inc. Text. 2006
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Susan J. Wolfson. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. 2nd ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007 Print.