Joseph Coelho is one of our favourite children’s authors. We absolutely love his work especially his verse novels. His writing style is delightful, so full of life, always conjuring up imagery that takes your breath away. Lily in particular has been so inspired by his work that when we had the opportunity to invite him on our blog to share his favourite literary monsters, we couldn’t resist, even if things were going to get a bit…spooky.
With Zombierella undoubtedly one of our favourite books of 2020, we had high hopes for Frankenstiltskin, and it didn’t disappoint! As the second in the Fairy Tales Gone bad series, Frankenstiltskin is also illustrated by Freya Hartas. Her illustrations are the perfect complement to the story and make Frankenstiltskin gloriously dark and unputdownable. Every word is an intentional dance that children will love. Like Zombierella, Frankenstiltskin also makes a great read-aloud book, perfect for this time of year.
The Werewolf is as old as stories and the lore associated with him is just as varied. Some believe a werewolf transforms by putting on a special salve, others by wearing the wolf of a skin but of course the classic idea is one of a received bite and a transformation by moonlight. The appeal of the werewolf is the way he reflects our inner bestial nature, suggests that we can go back to a time of magic and connection with the land something which I fear has sadly been lost.
I’m a big fan of the werewolves in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight – the way they explode into being and the suggestion that the werewolf body exists in another plane and the fact that they are not simple-minded killing machines. That said there is always a time and place in my heart for the evil variety of which The Big Bad Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood is probably the most well-known. He is a sort of gentleman thief whilst not identified as a werewolf his ability to speak and his skill at disguise definitely suggests that he is more man than animal.
Who wouldn’t want to be a vampire, they are stylish, stay out all night and powerful, if it wasn’t for that nasty habit of drinking blood and burning to a crisp in sunlight they would be very enviable characters. Justin Stomper’s Vampirates are amongst my favourites, the all-powerful vampire sea-lords sailing the waves and pirating as they go, genius! Being a vampire is an enviable life and who wouldn’t want to transform into a bat! And then there’s Lestat de Lioncourt and Louis de Pointe du Lac from Anne Rice’s Interview With A Vampire where we get a real sense of what it must be like to live forever, to see ages come and go. That, more than anything, I believe is the appeal of the vampire, the ability to live forever.
Frankenstein’s monster from Mary Shelley’s classic is probably my favourite of favourites – he is the one monster that I don’t want to be. I pity him. He is unwanted, shunned and maligned, forever bumbling and stumbling through life, a product of the cruel world he never asked to be a part of. He is a sad monster, a monster that embodies our fears of medicine and science, of all the things that could go wrong if we delve too deep into areas that should be left untouched. He is the basis of Jurassic park and all it’s sequels with their increasingly monstrous man-made dinosaur creations, he is the father of so many science-fiction movie monsters from lab experiments gone wrong to killer robots. Frankenstein’s monsters throws up a mirror at society and bellows… “Beware!”
Joseph Coelho is an award-winning children’s author, performance poet and playwright based in London. His debut poetry collection, Werewolf Club Rules, was the 2015 winner of the CLPE CLiPPA Poetry Award.
Frankenstiltskin is available now at all good bookshops. Thank you to Walker Books for sending us a review copy.