Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005
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*****= An all-time favorite
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*        = Good, with reservations


****Through the Tempests Dark and Wild

A Story of Mary Shelley, Creator of Frankenstein

by Sharon Darrow

illustrated by Angela Barrett

Reviewed January 2, 2006.
Candlewick Press, Boston, 2003.  36 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005 (#2, Children's Nonfiction)

At the children’s writers’ conference I attended in Paris in November, Sharon Darrow and Mary Lee Donovan talked about the series of coincidences and dreams and providential events that resulted in the making of this wonderful book, including finding the perfect illustrator.

Of course I had to buy my own copy after I heard their amazing story, and the book is truly wonderful.

Mary Shelley’s mother, the famous Mary Wollstonecraft, died when she was only eleven days old, though Mary Shelley got to read and accept her ideas about women’s rights.  When Mary was a teen, her father remarried, and Mary didn’t get along with her stepmother, who disagreed with Mary Wollstonecraft’s ideas.  She stayed in Scotland with her dear friends Isabel and Robert Baxter.  Sharon Darrow focuses on this part of Mary’s life.

The author shows how Mary’s experiences led to her becoming a great writer.  She and her friends used to sit by the fire and tell ghost stories.  We see how Mary’s hard and lonely life led her to write the classic story of Frankenstein.  (I’ve never read it, and now I’m determined that I will.)

The book includes some stories the friends told, as well as truly beautiful and evocative paintings.  The mood is melancholy, but the story does show how Mary rose above her hard childhood.

Review of another book by Sharon Darrow:
Old Thunder and Miss Raney

Copyright © 2006 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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