STARRED REVIEW
February 13, 2018

A poignant look at the life of Mary Shelley

By Lita Judge
Award-winning author and illustrator Lita Judge is best known for her picture books, but her new work introduces teen readers to the brilliant Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.
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Award-winning author and illustrator Lita Judge is best known for her picture books, but her new work, Mary’s Monster, introduces teen readers to the brilliant Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

Judge spent five years researching Shelley in order to create this dramatic, creative and fictionalized biography. (Frankenstein’s monster authors a prologue.) Narrated from Shelley’s point-of-view, Judge’s lyrical free verse is accompanied by more than 300 pages of evocative, black-and-white watercolor illustrations, and this innovative format will have special appeal for young graphic novel fans.

Judge divides Shelley’s story into nine sections, reflecting the number of months Shelley spent writing her draft of Frankenstein. The last pages include illuminating source notes, a bibliography and short bios of Shelley’s peers along with plenty of background information on Shelley and her classic novel. All of these educational additions should prove useful in helping teen readers appreciate the importance of both Shelley’s work and her struggle to lead a fulfilling creative life at a time when social norms severely restricted women’s options.

Mary’s Monster is aimed at mature readers, as Judge does not shy away from including details such as the death of Shelley’s first baby and the suicide of her half-sister. Instead, Judge weaves these personal losses seamlessly into her narrative, much as Shelley drew on her own struggles in order to breathe life into one of the most enduring books of all time.

 

Deborah Hopkinson lives near Portland, Oregon. Her most recent book for young readers is Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen.

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Mary’s Monster

Mary’s Monster

By Lita Judge
Roaring Brook
ISBN 9781626725003

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