Frankinschool: Monster Match

Caryn Rivadeneira

Publisher: Red Chair Press Pages: 112 Price: (hardcover) $16.99 ISBN: 9781643712413 Reviewed: May, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

In Caryn Rivadeneira’s middle grade book, when a boy named Fred is sick at home and misses an author’s visit to his school, he returns to find that the writer has mistakenly inscribed “To Frank” on his copy.

Classmate Luisa —who likes to call herself Princesa Maria Luisa Octavia— sits next to Fred and regularly calls him “dumb.” When she sees the inscription “To Frank” in his book, she teases him, saying that while he might be Fred at home, he’s “Frank in school.” He is pained by Luisa’s daily dose of bullying, and his mother has suggested that Fred tell her it bothers him. But he’s afraid that if he does this, Luisa will think him both “dumb and a baby.”

After their teacher asks the class to write a “what if…?” story, Fred is initially stumped. But Luisa’s words “Frank in school” inspire him to write a humorous rhyming poem about turning into “Frankinschool.” And then things become really wonky: A green fog rolls in; Fred has become a Frankenstein-like monster named “Frankinschool”; and Luisa has become an actual princess, while the rest of the class has dozed off. The two realize they must free their school from the effects of a strange potion and contend with a strange, scheming ghost who lives in the school’s creepy attic.

Rivadeneira deftly creates relatable characters, and their smart, sometimes snappy dialogue keeps the story flowing nicely. The plot delightfully explodes into an imaginative, hilarious, and ultimately dicey situation. But the story does more than simply engage and entertain; among other things, it offers poignant lessons on forgiveness, friendship, and fairness.

Dani Jones’s black-and-white illustrations —expressive and humorous — add to the fun.

Slightly spooky and utterly charming, young readers will enjoy every page of Frankinschool.

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