Bradbury Day: Featuring Frankenstein and
a Sneak Peek at his New Poetry

h1 October 4th, 2007 by Eisha and Jules

What is “Bradbury Day”?, you ask. Well, Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray suggested that — in honor of the upcoming trick-or-treating holiday, which is all things spooky — we consider a favorite creepy-esque, Halloween-esque, scary-esque novel or story or picture book or etcetera (for any age readers) and write about it. Anything that celebrates the idea of The October Country, Ray Bradbury’s 1955 collection of twenty macabre short stories (and why that? ‘Cause Colleen is a hugely huge Bradbury fan, as she made clear in our May interview with her). And if you visit her site today, she’ll have a list of other bloggers who are highlighting their favorite spooky books on this Bradbury Day 2007.

You may remember that we recently interviewed Adam Rex, and we’ve made it very clear repeatedly that we’re big ‘ol honkin’ fans of his books. So, it may be no surprise that for Bradbury Day we want to re-visit and highlight Adam’s fabulous anthology of original poems, published last year by Harcourt, entitled Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich: and Other Stories You’re Sure to Like, Because They’re All About Monsters, And Some of Them Are Also About Food. You Like Food, Don’t You? Well, All Right Then. And Adam gave us permission to use Frankenwaiter up there to help us celebrate this book.

And then, even better yet, he gave us a sneak peek at the first poem of the new book he’s working on, and it’s entitled . . .

A MESSAGE FROM ADAM REX

My first monster book has sold so well
I bought a gold guitar.
Then I had some people fit
a second storey on my car.
And now my mansion has a track
where men on jet skis race giraffes.
(I also held some money back
to throw at pigeons, just for laughs.)

So, when asked if Frank could write some more
I told myself, I quote,
“If that freak will
make a sequel
I can buy a bigger boat!”

(He’s the poet–did you know it?
You deserve an explanation–
Frankenstein does all the writing.
I provide the motivation.)

So I said to him, “More poems!”
But he raised his hand (which shook,
due to a writer’s cramp he’d picked up
working on the Sandwich book)
and said, “No poems. Poems bad.
I think I ready to retire.
Maybe travel. Start a hobby.”
To which I responded, “FIRE!”

Then I waved around a burning torch–
that always does the trick.
Frankenstein got right to writing rhymes,
and wrote them all right quick.

So–as long as they keep sending checks,
I am
Yours Truly,
Adam Rex

Hoo ha! And thanks to Adam for that. (The formatting for that poem is a bit off in spots; WordPress will not allow us to indent in block quotes, blast it!)

To summarize Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, the book we’re highlighting today, these are “stories in verse about the monster-sized problems Dracula, Wolfman, Bigfoot and other monsters have.” Those Library of Congress summaries are handy like that, but if you haven’t already read this book, you really should treat yourself. A summary does it no justice whatsoever.

Jules: I reviewed it here last year, if you’d like to take a quick read about why there is a hole in your life if you haven’t read this book. Here’s an excerpt from my review, complete with my trademark lame humor and all:

The poems are interspersed with the plight of the poor Phantom of the Opera, for one, who can’t get certain nursery rhymes and children’s songs out of his head whilst trying to compose an aria and who grows increasingly deranged ’cause of it. And then there’s “Count Dracula Doesn’t Know He’s Been Walking Around All Night With Spinach in His Teeth”; the illustration on this one alone speaks volumes and is screamingly funny (bad pun intended). And what happens when Dr. Jekyll, who is put out at the notion of having to attend another one of those “dressy balls/in crowded halls and homes” and who intends to transform himself into Mr. Hyde, goofs up and becomes humdrum Mr. Henderson instead?

“What’s done . . . is done,”
sighed Henderson,
and went to join the rest.
Around the floor he stopped
to bore the pants off every guest.

He told a stale and endless tale
that tested their endurance,
topped that with pictures of his cat,
then sold them all insurance.

And Rex’s pen-and-ink drawing of Mr. N. Henderson? Well, it’s another must-see. Unfortunately, it’s not {at his site}, but you can see a few other of Rex’s illustrations there, and it’s well worth your time. Just look at that Speckled Crone! And as for Frankenstein — who merely wants a sandwich but has no bread — he’s really just a lovable ‘ol schlep. Poor thing scares everyone away when out looking for some condiments and such. Come on now. On the count of three, give me a big “aw!”, everyone. One, two . . . ah, forget it. But, truly, just look at that face again.

This is one sharp book. On every level — the text, the illustrations, all the subtleties therein — it’s inventive and hysterical, and you don’t want to miss it. Or else a monster might get you. Mwhahahahahahaha . . . and hahahahaha
. . . and hahahaha . . . and haha . . . and mwha . . . {evil laughter fades as I sign off} . . .

Eisha, don’t you think this is an excellent choice for Bradbury Day? Would you like to add anything about this very funny, very sharp, and quite original book Adam created? By the way, Adam also gave us permission to post the above-linked spread from Frankenstein, which gets me every time:

eisha: Yeah, but first: that new poem is hilarious. Poor monster. Adam, you better give him a big ol’ sandwich for that.

This book blew me away on every level. I loved the poetry, I loved the illustrations, I loved the concept. I got a little obnoxious with it last fall, forcing it on nearly everyone I knew, even the ones I don’t usually spring children’s books on. And, you know, I was on the Nominating Panel for the first Cybil Awards last year, and this book made it into our top five, so it’s not just me.

If there’s anyone left on the planet who hasn’t checked out this book, I am telling you: DO IT! It’s great for all ages, and it satisfies on every level. Read it now. Don’t make me get out the flaming torch.

Jules: Word up. Consider it highlighted. This is the last time we’re gonna rave about it, people. Come on. It’s been over a year now. If you haven’t read it, get moving. Hey, we can be bossy bears, too, just like Adam is to Frankenstein.

And we’re looking forward to the next book of poetry. So, thanks for the sneak peek, Mr. Rex.

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11 comments to “Bradbury Day: Featuring Frankenstein and
a Sneak Peek at his New Poetry”

  1. I love that letter poem! (And I want a second level on my car too.)

    And Adam: be nice to Frankie! I like him. Look at how politely he’s holding that Bradbury sign. Might need a whole book to tell his own sad story, whatdaya think?


  2. LOVE the new poem. Adam’s a genius for rhyming “freak will” with “sequel.” And you are geniuses for featuring his wonderful book!!


  3. I still think Frankenstein needs a better agent — the whole threaten-with-torches thing should bring on union action.

    I had a good snicker over the spinach, too. Too cute!


  4. The book is fantastic – gorgeous illustrations, hilarious text – and I’m sure the sequel will be just as hip and funny. I have issues whenever anyone or anyone refers to Frankenstein’s Monster as Frankenstein. Seriously, if I had a nickel for every time I thought about that in the month of October every year . . .


  5. Sorry to let you down, Little Willow. I considered that when writing the post, but I thought being all his-name-is-not-really-Frankenstein about it each and every time his name came up would annoy our readers. If it makes you feel any better, I’ll give you a bunch of nickels next time I see you for having done it here. ;)


  6. I think that at this point, the Frankensteinwe know is almost a separate entity from the Frankenstein’s monster in the book. Frankenstein’s monster is a bit more introspective, I think.

    I’ve been meaning to check out Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, and now I think I will.


  7. Hi, Little Willow. I realize I really rub a lot of people the wrong way when I call the monster Frankenstein. Many of them even go out of their way to “break it to me.”
    As I’ve said before in interviews, though: while the monster in Shelley’s book is unnamed, a flat-headed green halloween decoration is Frankenstein. They’re barely related, in my opinion. And the Universal movies basically referred to him as Frankenstein, and those movies are a much larger influence on my books than the Victorian novels.
    I still call tomatoes vegetables, too.


  8. I am seriously incapable of reading this book silently. Each and every time it is in my hands I read it aloud to whomever is in the room.

    Thank God Adam Rex is brilliant, or I’d have been hit by now. ;)


  9. [...] Bradbury Day: Featuring Frankenstein anda Sneak Peek at his New Poetry October 4th, 2007 &nbsp&nbsp by Eisha and Jules [...]


  10. [...] once wavered and is a good listener and nice guy, that Adam (and did a dramatic reading of his new poem for us). And do you know that he doodles in his sketchbook all. the. time? [...]


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