Cover Image: Frances and the Monster

Frances and the Monster

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Member Reviews

I received an ARC of Frances and the Monster by Refe Tuma from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a fun twist on a Frankenstein story. It has the right amount of scary for a middle-grade audience along with all the laughs.

The robot programmed to protect Frances has humor that will appeal to adults. Kids will find the situation (temporary home) of the robot funny. I loved the relationship between Frances and Luca. They're both navigating hardships from their past. I wasn't sure why Frances lost the ear and had it sew-up from the car wreck of when she was a little girl. (But the author worked it into the plot in a logical way.)

This book is high adventure, hunting for a monster. Could you say there are more than one monster in this book? Why yes, you could. 

I hope you pick up this book and love it!
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I think this is entirely a reflection of me and not on the book or the author.

I’ve been in a reading slump lately and even though this book was one of my most anticipated, I just don’t think it’s what I wanted right now.

However, I do want to read it when it releases (and I’m not in a reading slump) so I can actually enjoy it.
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A wonderfully moody and adventurous middle grade Frankenstein retelling. Frances is a young girl who’s cooped up in her mansion with an ornery robot tutor and a smart chimpanzee. When she accidentally brings a monster to life and it escapes into the nearby town, she must gather her all her resources and allies to retrieve him. This story of magic, new friendships, and surprising twists will be well loved by readers of all ages.
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** “We didn’t fail. We just haven’t succeeded yet.” **

Refe Tuma offers a unique take on the classic Frankenstein story with “Frances and the Monster,” a story about never giving up.

Frances Stenzel doesn’t understand why her brilliant scientist parents never let her leave their home. When they leave for another conference at the start of World War II, she finds herself alone with a new mechanic tutor … and a mystery in the basement.

When she accidentally releases the mysterious creature into the nearby village, she finds herself having to head into an unknown and unfamiliar place.

With the help of Luca, a boy she meets, as well as a chimp named Fritz and a talking head, will she be able to save the village from “the monster”? And will she find the answers she’s seeking about herself?

“Frances and the Monster” is a fun story that teaches us the importance of bravery; the need for creativity; the specter of war; don’t ever give up; and the impact of secrets. Huge themes include sacrifice and justice.

Tuma also creates delightful characters. Readers will love the plucky Frances and the trying-to-be-brave Luca.

Children and adults will both love this story, which is due out Aug. 23. It will be a great book for parents and children to read together.

Five stars out of five. 

HarperCollins provided this complimentary copy through NetGalley for my honest, unbiased review.
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“She had created a monster. And now she had to stop him”

Frances Stenzel has lofty goals for her future scientific career, that is once she’s allowed to leave
her house. It's been seven years since the accident that left eleven-year-old Frances stuck in the Victorian
manor she lives in. Though her parents are world famous scientists who travel the world, Frances is often
left behind, that is until her dad tells her about a big surprise he has for her. But when Frances’ dreams of
adventure are foiled, she does not let her sadness get the best of her and she decides to demonstrate her scientific genius. However things don't go quite as planned when Frances accidentally unveils her great-
grandfather’s incredible invention, a terrifying monster, and subsequently allows it to escape. Frances, along with an annoying robot and pet chimpanzee, must find the monster and save the town before it's too

Frances and the Monster is a great way to make a novel of classic English literature approachable
and interesting for young readers. Refe Tuma’s debut middle grade novel doesn't hesitate to address
difficult topics that young readers are dealing with; topics like anxiety, loss, and death. Readers follow as
Frances deals with serious anxiety, and her struggle is depicted in a very authentic and relatable way.
Frances and the Monster has a strong focus on friendship, and what it means to help and relate to other
people. Frances and Luca, two of the book’s main characters, find solace in one another; they both have
parents who are often absent or busy, so their kids are learning to be independent and self reliant. The characters truly make Tuma’s novel shine, their background and unique personalities are entertaining and engaging. With his witty voice and a charming young heroine, Refe Tuma has brought to life a middle grade adventure that any young reader or fan of Frankenstein is sure to love.

(Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing us with an ARC in
exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to
change upon final publication.)
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What a fun book with a serious twist. Fances is a girl on a mission to be a top-notch scientist like her parents, but they have her sequestered in the house with limited freedom. All that changes when they leave her behind with a robotic nanny. Frances has a mind always working and she is quick to setting about creating some unforeseen havoc while the parents are away.  

What trouble can an unsupervised 11-year-old girl with a monkey and a few other sidekicks get into running around the streets of 1939 Switzerland? 

When my daughter was much younger, we enjoyed the Franny K. Stein series. I can see this being a step up from that series.

Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollins for the opportunity to read an advance reading copy.
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This book was wild! What an exciting concept, with a well-created setting and such interesting characters. It has been a very long time since I last read Frankenstein, so my thoughts are a bit removed from the retelling perspective, but I can confirm it does very well as a standalone!

This reads more like an adventure book than a thriller or mystery, where the main plot and pacing surrounds what is essentially the main characters chasing a target while being chased themselves. Sometimes I think chase stories get a bit repetitive after a time, but this one kept it interesting with each new place they go and each new character they meet. Each new encounter unravels more of the story. The characters are all very distinctive and I feel like you get to know each of them well. When a character does something, there's existing precedent for that behavior, which I really like. I would have enjoyed a bit more evidence of character development throughout, as the characters seem fairly static until their final interactions at the end, where they suddenly show they've learned something from it all. 

Overall, a really exciting new middle grade book that I'll be recommending to all the kids asking for something dark, spooky, thrilling. 

Thanks to HarperCollins Children's Books and NetGalley for the eARC!
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Note: My reviews tend to be long—and I love writing them—but I need to finish them faster, so, here's a new format I'm trying.

An adventure that’s fun, funny, and a bit spooky that will make middle grade readers think and feel.

Here’s what I loved:

• A new riff on the Frankenstein tale.

• Intriguing setting: Bern, Switzerland, 1939.

• Gorgeous writing.

• Engaging characters: The protagonist, Frances, is an isolated, science-loving girl who struggles with PTSD from a terrible car accident in which she lost an ear, as well as agoraphobia. She’s also brave, smart, and strong—and thrillingly, unapologetically herself.

Luca, a kind and resourceful boy who helps Frances discover true friendship. 

Hobbes—possibly my favorite character?—a robot who spends most of the story as a disembodied head. Frances’ father created Hobbes to tutor and care for his daughter while he and his scientist wife travel for work. (A robot caretaker? What could go wrong?)

The easy-to-hate antagonist, the Constable, doggedly pursues Frances. In the end, we come to understand his motivations and glimpse his humanity. The villain who lives in the sewer is just plain creepy.

• Lots of action, including perilous rooftop chases as Frances and Luca (with Hobbes in a birdcage) try to evade the Constable while chasing the monster that escaped Frances’ great-grandfather’s secret lab.

• Terrific humor—especially the banter among Frances, Luca, and Hobbes.

• A twisty, surprise ending and then—surprise!—another. (There’s an epilogue.)

• Important themes about what makes us human and the value of friends and family.

I received a digital ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I only post about books I finished and enjoyed.
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I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected.
Tuma took the story of Frankenstein and turned it into a middle grades adventure with a touch of comic absurdity anchored by real growth and introspection.
In this story, 11 year old Frances has lived at home with her scientist parents, never leaving their expansive manner after a car accident left her gravely injured at the age of four and resulted in the loss of one of her ears. She loves her parents but wants more, wants to get out in the world and leave the manner. The story starts with her believing that her parents are finally going to take her on one of their trips, a perilous one at the time due to the imminent outbreak of World War II, but instead the surprise turns out to be a robot tutor. Determined to outwit this tutor, she ends up figuring out his off switch and using his body for parts in one of her great grandfather's experiments, a body that she reawakens. Then she has to depend on Hobbes, he still has cognition since she did not use the robot's head, her chimp friend, Fitz, as well as a boy she meets in town, Luca, to recapture the monster before he can wreak havoc.
I really enjoyed how Tuma kept the reader guessing throughout the book as to certain hints and reveals. Frances felt real and human, not a storybook character or even close to villainous (like the original Dr. Frankenstein). Even though some of the secondary characters felt a bit flat and cartoonish, I think that they fit perfectly into this novel in a way that kept this feeling like the middle grades adventure that it is. I definitely recommend this book.
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***I was provided an advance copy of this book for free by NetGalley and the publisher for an honest review. Here it is...***

I absolutely loved this book. It was an easy middle-grade read with colorful characters and an engaging storyline. Frances was a strong and courageous female main character, one that I would love for my 9-year-old to read about. The friendship between Frances, Hobbes, and Luca was so sweet, and I loved seeing the growth of each character throughout the book. I will definitely be sharing this one with my middle grader this summer!
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I am not normally one for retellings or for Frankenstein, but Frances and the Monster is a fantastic MG fantasy retelling of Frankenstein. Frances follows in her great-grandfather's footsteps and discovers that monster hunting is not easy, but it can lead to a grand adventure. Modern readers will love the historical setting and characters. This book is sure to spark some interest in reading more about Frankenstein in the future.

Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollins for the opportunity to read an advance reading copy.
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With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early copy in return for an honest review.

4.5 stars for this thrilling historical fantasy. The book had action and adventure around every corner and is an incredibly well done modern retelling of Frankenstein. If readers are paying very close attention they might be able to guess some of the twists and turns of the book, but not all of them!

As an added note, I love when books take you on a trip through the pages and I felt truly transported to Switzerland with this story.
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I really love the premise of this story, as well as the relationship between Frances and Hobbes. Frances is exceptional, daring and bold, a heroine for the early 20th century. However, it can be a bit dense and long at times, so it may be better for later middle grades (rather than elementary school). The Frankenstein references may also be lost on younger audiences.
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eARC from Netgalley and HarperCollins Children's Books

What a fun, exciting, fast-paced story based on Frankenstein for middle schoolers.
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This was a ridiculous but fun caper!  By that I mean don’t expect things to make sense…. And don’t expect characters to necessarily make smart choices in the heat of the chase. I definitely stayed up way too late reading this, but it was a lovely way to pass time.  

I enjoyed the adventure, although Frances makes for an unlikely and awkward first friend. I was less happy that many of the adults were regulated to “it’s the enemy run!” category but oh well.  I don’t think many kids will notice this.  

I am looking forward to the sequel and I’d recommend for younger readers as an enjoyable and quick read.
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This incredibly fun middle grade spin on Frankenstein. Tuma’s prose brings pre-WW2 Bern to life, pun intended. It also brings empathy, comedy, gender, steampunk/STEM, friendship, loneliness, kindness, and adventure together in a book that will have many younger readers doubling back to re-read the entire thing, or at least some sections.  Also - the cover is tremendous.
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Frances and the Monster was a fun middle-grade-level book! It was full of adventure, character-driven, world-building, and plot twists galore. 

It was so creative and had me wanting to read more!

Synopsis: "Frances Stenzel was just trying to prove her scientific worth to her parents so they would take her with them to their scientific symposiums for once--instead, she reawakened her great-grandfather's secret and most terrible invention.

Before it can destroy the town, she sets off after it, with her pet chimp and sarcastic robot tutor by her side. But monster-hunting isn't easy, and she'll have to face a persistent constable, angry locals, and an unexpected friendship ahead--all while the trail for the monster goes cold and time is running out before her science career, and the city itself, are doomed forever."
Kids in STEM will really feel pulled to this book as science is a massive element throughout the book. 

The message is strong, and the themes of friendship, being creative, and bravery holds true. It has a darker, steampunk feel, which is perfect for retelling in the world of Frankenstein. This book moved me and is a good reminder to embrace your scars from the past, learn from mistakes, and never give up. 

As a teacher, I recommend that we bring this book into our school library! I would love to give elementary children the opportunity to read such a marvelous book. 

Thank you, NetGalley, and to the publisher for the opportunity to read this fantastic book in exchange for my honest review.
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This was an awesome book! The time the story took place could be almost anytime. At first I thought it was current day and then I thought it was during the World Wars. But it didn't really matter because it could be anytime. 
I loved how the story kept growing, with the characters and the plot. I felt like I was on the adventure with them. I was caught up with them emotionally too. The author did a great job pulling you in.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Happy reading.
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This is the kind of book I read middle grade for! A super cool and creaky old mansion with hidden rooms and secrets, a plucky heroine who accidentally unleashes a huge mistake on her entire town, diabolical villains, and tons of twists, adventure, humor, and an ending that you won't see coming. 5 stars!
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This book is monstrously moody and delivers a twist that will have young readers wanting to go back to the start and re-read it again.

Refe Tuma has crafted a supremely nuanced Frankenstein retelling/reimagining that is as much about empathy, vulnerability and self-discovery as it is about a. young girl going on his first adventure and finding a true friend along the way. The reader is right there with Francis as she tries to undo what she's done while fighting everything from her own insecurities to a relentless lawman to a monster who isn't exactly what she first assumes.

Put this book in the hands of kids who love to be whisked away to another time and place and watch them come alive.
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