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Valensteins

Fran, who looks very much like a miniature version of Frankenstein, is the main character in this Children’s Picture Book. It has many scary looking characters, including a mummy, a witch and a vampire. The front cover shows a dark background with two people inside a cut- out love heart, because this is really a love story. The end pages are black and the background colour of each page is dark.

 It was a good night for going out and scaring people, but Fran was busy cutting out something. Vladimir wanted to know what was happening and discovered that Fran was cutting out a shape. The others tried to guess what he was doing. They thought he was cutting out a nose, or a mask, or a paper butt, but then someone saw the date and realised it was Valentine’s Day. EEEEEK! Isn’t that to do with love? ….What is love? “That’s when two people feel mushy about each other.’”

 EWWWWW! The horror of that thought has the other characters reeling. They begin discussing what it feels like to love someone, and how mushy that could be, and what behaviour the couple might engage in. The looks of repulsion are very humorous, as are the howls of anguish. All are agreed that they will never fall in love, while Fran goes outside to sit in a tree. That is where he is met and reminded that love doesn’t have to be mushy.

 Humour is certainly the carrier of the messages and themes in this book. The illustrations themselves are clever, and the ending gentle and satisfying. The dark pages give a distinct feel to the story, but despite cobwebs and spooky trees and prickly plants, this is a romance.

 In a lovely way, we see just how maturity changes a person’s thoughts and feelings. Fran was ready to explore why his heart felt happy when he was with someone special. Despite his friends calling him a “Weirdo”, Fran was happy just sitting and staring at the moon with his friend.

 The dark pages bring immediacy to the story, only the characters exist with their thoughts, but, for the most, dark writing on dark pages is difficult to read. A true love story, which will make you smile.

AuthorEthen Long
PublisherBloomsbury USA Children
ISBN9781619634350
Websitehttps://www.bloomsbury.com/au
DistributorBloomsbury
ReleasedJanuary 2018