As part of my Inspired by Stanford’s SLE Program, a Reading List for Children Part 3 my son Bruce(7) read the Classic Stars version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Bruce read this on his own in about forty minutes and I wasn’t really sure how much he understood. It turns out, quite a lot actually, (with a bit of confusion thrown in). The following is the transcript of our conversation about the book:
Q) What was this book about?
Bruce’s Answer:It was a pretty good book. It was the whole story technically about how Frankenstein created the Monster. But it sort of started with this guy chasing after the Monster. The guy (I know he was Frankenstein) was rescued by Captain Walter (who wasn’t the main guy or anything). Frankenstein just told Captain Walter the whole story which goes like this: He makes two friends, a really funny guy and a girl. Then, he has to go away to the university.
His first professor is really horrible but his second professor is awesome. The second professor thought there was a new way of thinking. It was really cool. The second professor was technically the best. Frankenstein learned so much that he wanted to create a real human being out of body parts. But he knows if he does that that he has to study death and life and everything like that. So then he makes the Monster. He thinks the guys is going to be awesome, but the Monster is actually really horrible and evil because I think Frankenstein forgot to give him a brain. His wrist and all of his connections were sewn together, like with needlepoint. It was just plain weird.
Q) What did the Monster think?
Bruce’s Answer: He was sort of evil because he didn’t have proper body parts. He didn’t have enough skin. He was evil because he was made out of dead things so he was like a king zombie.
Q) Did the Monster want to be human?
Bruce’s Answer: No, because the Monster wanted to be made out of living parts, but the professor knew that wasn’t possible. The professor needed to study way more for that, but he wasn’t going to. The Monster wanted living body parts that he could control.
Q) Do you think humans should be able to create new creatures like Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster?
Bruce’s Answer: Not really, because if it went wrong then it would be really freaky and it would be weird.
Q) Do you think Dr. Frankenstein was brave for trying to do something new that nobody had ever done before?
Bruce’s Answer: Sort of, but he was also overconfident. He was teensy bit overconfident than he should be.
Q) Were there any girls in the book?
Bruce’s Answer: Dr. Frankenstein made a friend with a girl. The girl’s name was Elizabeth.
Q) How did the book end?
Bruce’s Answer: It sort of ended when Dr. Frankenstein died and Frankenstein’s Monster was sad that his dear creator died and then he jumped out the window of the ship. But Captain Walter, the guy who owns the ship, jumped out into the sea of the Arctic. Frankenstein’s Monster is probably dead, but he was dead anyway. Oh, and Frankenstein killed Elizabeth.
Q) How did that happen?
Bruce’s Answer: I don’t know how she died. The book doesn’t tell you.
Q) Why do you think that Frankenstein is associated with Halloween?
Bruce’s Answer: It’s not associated with Halloween. He just wanted to be a great scientist. It doesn’t have anything to do with Halloween. At first he was going to create an animal, but then he thought the world needed another human, not an animal.
Q) When some people hear the word “Frankenstein” they think of the Monster, instead of the Dr. Frankenstein.
Bruce’s Answer: Frankenstein actually created the Monster.
This was the first book I have bought from the “Classic Starts” series and I was extremely impressed. This is actually problematic for me, because now I want to buy more! Ugh. If only there was a money tree in my backyard…