Author: Matthew McElligott and Larry Tuxbury. Release date: 2010. Publisher: G.P. Putnam Son’s. ISBN: 9780399252297.
Review: This unique, clever and often hilarious novel is Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets Frankenstein. Victor is an uptight middle-school student who spends his days calculating and testing his various scientific theories. He appears to be very rigid and lacking in spontaneity. Mention is made of his parents getting a divorce, and older readers might pick up on Victor’s constant “tests” as a way to maintain control over his life resulting from his family splitting apart. Benjamin Franklin is an unusual father-figure for Victor to idolize, but that is precisely what ends up happening. Ben encourages Victor to step outside of his comfort zone, helping him to break out of his shell. Apart from these more sophisticated undertones, younger readers will enjoy the novel for its humor and excitement. Many pages are accompanied by illustrations or diagrams of various scientific projects or machinery Victor encounters. Some of these drawings actually serve an educational purpose, while others simply enhance the story. Overall, ‘tweens, especially boys, will enjoy this silly “horror” novel with a deeper message.
Reading level: Grades 4-6
Similar titles: Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney.
Personal thoughts: I really enjoyed this clever, quick read. Benjamin Franklinstein is a very lovable “monster” and Victor is an interesting protagonist as well. I appreciated the novel’s undertones of self-confidence and dealing with broken families as well. Upon finishing the story, I was excited to learn it is the first in an upcoming series. I look forward to seeing how the series fares.
Themes: Science, historical figures, horror.
Awards/Reviews: Positive review from School Library Journal and Booklist.
Series Information: First novel in Benjamin Franklinstein series.
Victor Godwin – An uptight middle-school student who spends most of his time working on his science fair project and testing various inventions. He meets and befriends Benjamin Franklinstein after he is awoken in Victor’s basement.
Benjamin Franklin – A “Frankenstein” type monster version of the famous historical figure who, having slept in a state of suspended animation for over 200 years, is awoken in Victor’s basement. Believes he has been awoken by the Modern Order of Prometheus to serve a higher purpose.
Scott Weaver – Victor’s best friend. Hopes to create a potato battery for the science fair.
Annotation: Victor Godwin’s life is forever changed when Benjamin Franklin, who has been in a state of hibernation for over 200 years, is suddenly awoken from his electric chamber in Victor’s basement!