K-Gr 2-This is the story of a Frankenstein-type monster whose only desire is to dance. The garish creature, whose eyes bulge alarmingly, is shown in the first spread watching Soul Train. With dreams of the spotlight, he crashes the theater, where the audience has gathered to see the Royal Ballet. Instead, they see the leering Frank in a vaudeville sort of dance, complete with top hat and cane. The audience raves until the creature begins to come undone: his head unzips and his brain tumbles out. The act ends with the monster losing an eye, an arm, and his head as the crowd stampedes for the door. Readers may be startled by the dance's ending-should they feel sorry for Frank or run screaming like the audience? The verse is stilted at times and children probably won't get the joke when Frank is said to have "danced like his shoe size, instead of his age." The text jitters around the page just like a dancer. Words are emphasized with a variety of fonts, colors, shapes, and sizes. Some letters turn into eyeballs and worms to tie into the plot. The acrylic illustrations are slightly gross-Frank's brain flops out of his skull dripping flies and worms, and his eyeball rolls out the door. The book is a little too gory to be hilarious, and not enough attention is given to the monster's personality to bring him to life.-Susan Marie Pitard, Weezie Library for Children, Nantucket Atheneum, MA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
of The Center for Children's Books
By Janice Harrington
When Frank (as in Frankenstein) goes dancing, his lively movements make him fall to pieces, whereupon his previously appreciative audience runs screaming from the theater. A humorous rhyming text immediately engages readers: "Frank was a monster who wanted to dance./ 'I know I could boogie if they gave me a chance.'/ So he put on his hat and his shoes made in France/ and opened a jar and put on his pants." In acrylic and colored pencil, Graves' cartoon-like illustrations, stylistically reminiscent of Lane Smith, extend the text with such details as Frank's mouse slippers (complete with teeth), a bottle of "Le Smell," and a box of "Le Shooz." Graves' palette (purple-grape, electric blue, and lime-green with cherry-red highlights) makes the details pop without overwhelming the eye. Young listeners will respond to the comedy, the catchy rhythm, and especially the yuck factor induced by Frank's dancy disintegration.
Newcomer Graves pays generic, goofy homage to Frankenstein and to 1960s-era hot-rod art. He goes heavy on the purple, electric blue and Astroturf green in his polished, nearly 3D compositions of acrylic and colored pencil. Even the hand-lettered text, with its occasional incorporation of worms, bulging eyes, etc., contributes to the expansion of the punchline, which will likely hit primary graders' funny bones.
In rhyme and gloriously putrid color, we follow Frank the monster as he achieves his dream: "I know I could boogie if they gave me a chance," he muses, sitting at home in his pants, and proceeds to the theater. The audience loves him, but his head, which looks like an acid-green baseball with a zipper, comes undone, spilling out his purplely brain. The grossed-out audience departs as Frank loses an arm and an eyeball. Just the ticket for a collection that might be leaning too much toward the sweet and proper. This is a close cousin to Boogi Bones, written by Elizabeth Loredo and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.