Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to School: Frankie Stein Starts School by Lola M. Schaefer

Frankie Stein stood on the steps of Miss Wart's Academy for Ghosts and Ghouls. He had been waiting for this night for a long time.

During story hour, Mrs. Wart read a book about ghosts. Frankie scooted closer so he could see and hear the scary parts.

"EWWWWW!" howled Wilma. "I'm not sitting next to HIM. He's WEIRD!"

It's finally the first day of school for young Frankie N. Stein, but although he finds delightful all things frightful, his boy-next-door good looks are a real turn-off for his classmates, especially Wilma Witch, Skelly Skeleton, and Vinnie Vampire. With a blond Beach Boy hair do and his favorite preppy threads, he just doesn't fit in at the Academy.

"We don't like you," said Vinnie.

"Yeah," said Skelly. "You don't look like US!"

"So what?" said Frankie. "I can still be scary, even scarier than you. Watch and see!"

Frankie is used to battling the stigma of his conventional good looks, even in own his monster family, so the initial rejection at Mrs. Wart's Academy comes as no surprise. Frankie just digs in and does the work, diligently delving into his textbook--How to Be Gross--and coloring his face purple and his nails black in art class.

"Bone-chilling" pronounces Skelly in approval.

Soon Frankie is at the head of the class in dino-fang counting, howling, and concocting gurgling potions, and his school mates have to concede that he's the bloodcurdling, ghoulish star of the class.

Back home, his mom asks about his first day.

"What did you like best?" asked Mrs. Frank N. Stein.

"Friends!" said Frankie. "I made a lot of frightening friends."

"That's our Frankie!" said Mr. and Mrs. Frank N. Stein.

Following up on her 2007 Frankie Stein, Lola Schaefer's Frankie Stein Starts School (Marshall Cavendish, 2010) brings back her atypical little monster in a back-to-school story of a nerdy non-monsterish kid who proves he's got the right scary stuff to hold his own and even make friends at monster school. Just in time for the first days back in class, this quirky tale of finding a way to fit in when you're different from the norm will resonate with reluctant scholars, especially those who are already looking forward to the scary season upcoming soon.

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