Review Blog

Jul 12 2012

Frank n Stan by M. P. Robertson

cover image

Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2012. ISBN 9781 84780 130 2.
(Ages: 6+)Picture book. Humour. Highly recommended.
In reprising the story of Frankenstein, Robertson has cleverly recycled the name of the doctor to include the young boy, Frank and his creation, Stan, the mechanical man he builds in the basement of his house, after his pleas for a baby brother or sister go unheeded. He makes plans, gathers scrap material, and builds his creation. Each page of illustrations is most detailed reflecting the effort Frank is taking to construct Stan. Using pulleys and levers, acetylene and a battery, Stan comes to life. At first wobbly and losing oil form the oddest of places, Frank is ecstatic that he finally has his baby brother.
The family needs to get used to this odd contraption sitting at breakfast with an oil can, wrecking the steps to Frank's upper bunk as he climbs to bed, but this is easier when he also vacuums and hangs out the washing. Stan and Frank have an amazing time together, and the astute reader will notice the swelling of mum's tum, adding a baby to the family. Stan, Frank and the baby continue the fun of before, but Stan is increasingly left out of the games, and so, dejected, runs away. A lovely resolution occurs in which the family realises how much they miss Stan, and Frank tales off after him.
This is a wonderful read, full of family life, promoting the idea of a new member coming in and the place each person has in the family. The story speaks of inclusion and acceptance, of love and togetherness. It promotes invention, trying new things and solving problems. Amongst many things readers will love following the cat as the story is told, and see the parallels to the old story of Frankenstein, and the humour in the title.
The detail on each page, including the end papers, draws the eyes to the plethora of information each page gives the reader. They will love picking out the minute things portrayed, working out how each piece goes to help build Stan. The superb illustrations beg the reader to build a Stan of their own, so teachers and parents need to have a box of useful equipment at the ready.
Fran Knight

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