Confession: I have not seen the Tim Burton film that this graphic novel is based on, so I can’t compare how much has been changed. However, from what I can tell, this is a fairly standard novelization wherein the book takes the movie as original source material and merely illustrates it. Of course, since the original movie is animated and this is a graphic novel, all that really happened is they took stills from the movie, added words, and called it a graphic novel. It isn’t bad, it’s actually pretty good, but I can not imagine much was altered.
The opening half dozen pages are paragraph introductions of the characters and contain splashes of green text, the only color in an otherwise black and white book. However, the black and white has the feel and depth of an old movie (an intentional artistic choice), not the feel of pen and ink drawings. In fact, the entire book retains that familiar Tim Burton computer generated style.
The plot is simple: a young Frankenstein (sadly no Mel Brooks anywhere in sight, just a bunch of kids) is challenged by his science teacher to compete in the science fair. Couple that with the tragic death of his beloved dog and you have an easy set-up for the creation of the Frankenweenie. But when the other students, eager to win the science fair, try this with their own pets, disaster strikes. It is up to Frankenstein and Sparky, the reanimated dog, to save the day. And they do, of course, providing a nice rehabilitation of the monster that never exists in classic literature or film.
I didn’t have too many expectations of a film adaptation graphic novel, but this one was well done. The layouts, still choices for illustration, text placement—all of it was carefully considered. Ultimately your readers might be better off with an original graphic novel, but if you have some extra budget or a donation, this might be a fun addition for reluctant readers. And, of course, the original film came out in 2012. Three years is an eternity in a child’s world—they might never realize it was a movie at this point.
by Tim Burton, Alessandro Ferrari
Art by Helen Chen and Jorgen Klubien
Publisher Age Rating: 10-14