Written and Illustrated by Adam Rex
Published by Harcourt Books, 2006
As a parent in the horror industry, I’ve always had my worries about whether or not I’m raising my little demons…er…darlings correctly in the horror tradition. How soon is too soon to scare them to death, or introduce them to the classic monsters? How early can we tell them the original meanings behind the nursery rhymes and fairy tales? How do we, as parents, remain true to our horror roots without traumatizing the children or creating the next serial killer? It seems an easy enough answer when an artist like Adam Rex comes along with a book like Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich.
Meant for ages 5-10, Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich is a collection of poems about the odd misadventures of the most famous of the monsters. From Dracula, who has spinach stuck in his teeth, to the Mummy who won’t go to bed without cookies and a story, each of the best monsters are represented. The poems of each section are geared toward children, but will still bring a smile to the adults who read them aloud. Some sections are limericks, others are standard stanza poems, while the portions about The Phantom of the Opera are sung to the tunes of “It’s a Small World,” “Pop Goes the Weasle,” “BINGO,” and “The Girl from Ipanema.”
What makes this book all the more impressive is the artwork by Rex. Incorporating many different styles, Rex adds the perfect touch of humor to the stories. His spot-on renderings of the famous monsters give that touch of nostalgia to the parents and engage the children. That Rex has an uncanny ability to capture the essence of the creatures while making them comically bent is a credit to his abilities as an artist. Also, the fact that he switches styles so completely throughout the course of the book showcases his talent. In one moment his images call Bill Plympton (with more attention to detail) to mind, while others bear a more than passing resemblance to 19th century art.
As with most books of children’s poetry, the subjects are easily guessed by the titles of each poem. After the title piece comes “The Creature From the Black Lagoon Doesn’t Wait An Hour Before Swimming,” “The Phantom of the Opera Can’t Get ‘It’s a Small World’ Out of His Head” and “The MiddleWich Witch-Watchers Club.” “An Open Letter From Wolfman’s Best Friend” (who turns out to be his dog) is next, followed by “The Invisible Man Gets a Haircut,” more about the musically impaired Phantom, and “Count Dracula Doesn’t Know He’s Been Walking Around All Night with Spinach in His Teeth.” Following is “The Mummy Won’t Go to His Eternal Rest Without a Story and Cookies”, “The Yeti Doesn’t Appreciate Being Called Bigfoot,” and the third poem about the luckless Phantom. There is also “The Lunchsack of Notre Dame,” “Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Henderson,” “Zombie Zombie,” and yet another installment of the saga of the Phantom. The last section contains a horrific monster poem about “The Dentist,” the final chapter of the Phantom tale, “Bigfoot Can’t Believe You Called Him a Yeti Just Now,” and the favorite of giggling kids and sophomoric adults everywhere, “Godzilla Pooped on my Honda.” Yep, you read the last one right. Complete with pictures.
The end result is something the likes of which have not been seen since the old Tex Avery cartoons. Not only is this book enjoyable for children, but adults will find it hilarious as well. There are several sections that are laugh-out-loud funny, and children will find themselves mimicking the faces of the poor beleaguered creatures and giggling madly. More importantly, this book is something that any horror parent can share with their children. Although the cover says “Ages 5 to 10,” all ages will enjoy reading it.