Tag Archives: Catherine Reef

Frankenstein’s Frankenstein

29 Oct

Last week, eavesdropping on book club conversations, I overheard a boy admit to his group that he’d read ahead and finished the book. “It was rainy, so I stayed in my pyjamas all day and just finished it.” My heart soared.

It was another rainy weekend here, perfect for reading knitting and a lot of pyjama time. I finished Catherine Reef’s biography of Mary Shelley,  The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator Mary Shelley.  It is a long title for a slim volume.


Publisher’s Summary: On the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, comes a riveting biography of its author, Mary Shelley, whose life reads like a dark gothic novel, filled with scandal, death, drama, and one of the strangest love stories in literary history.

The story of Frankenstein’s creator is a strange, romantic, and tragic one, as deeply compelling as the novel itself. Mary ran away to Lake Geneva with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley when she was just sixteen. It was there, during a cold and wet summer, that she first imagined her story about a mad scientist who brought a corpse back to life. Success soon followed for Mary, but also great tragedy and misfortune.

Catherine Reef brings this passionate woman, brilliant writer, and forgotten feminist into crisp focus, detailing a life that was remarkable both before and after the publication of her iconic masterpiece. Includes index.

This week’s book talks 4/16-20

20 Apr

I got to go hear Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher Monday, so I didn’t do a book talk. I did however, receive a copy of their newest book, 180 Days.



It was non-fiction booktalk week and I started with this ARC about the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.



I shared a memoir by one of the kings of the basketball court, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.



Today was about a different kind of royalty: Queen Victoria.



Today’s book, though well-written, tells a terribly tragic tale.




19 Sep

Last year, one of my ESL students made my jaw drop when she gave her oral presentation on Frida Kahlo. She was a quiet, shy student and not really confident in her abilities. She’d had a little trouble getting started on her research, but when she and I sat together and went on a virtual tour of Kahlo’s Casa Azul she was inspired and her speech was one of the best I saw in the entire 4th grade.

Two new books have come out about Frida Kahlo, for different audiences and reading levels.


Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales brings Frida to life with puppets.  The simple bilingual book celebrates Frida’s creativity and joie de vivre. It is not a biography, but a celebration. Readers will enjoy examine the details on each page. This is an excellent book to introduce Frida to kids.

Older readers can learn more details about Kahlo, and her relationship with Diego Rivera in Frida & Diego: Art, Love, Life by Catherine Reef.


This book portrays the passionate and complex relationship between the two in language suited to a middle school audience. Primary sources enhance the text. Paintings are reproduced at the end of the book, rather than in the context in which they are discussed. back matter includes a timeline, endnotes, bibliography and index.


Hispanic Heritage Month began on September 15th and will end on October 15th.

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