Review: Frankenstein's Matzah, A Passover Parody

Frankenstein's Matzah, A Passover Parody

by K. Marcus, illustrated by Sam Loman

Intergalactic Afikomen, 2024

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Arlene Schenker

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Frankenstein’s Matzah is a wacky, entertaining, very colorful graphic picture book. It combines diversity (a non-binary main character) with a Jewish holiday (a Passover seder), STEM (science experiments and back matter about the scientific method), Yiddish puns, and some moral questions for main character, Vee.

Vee is the great, great, great descendant of Victor Frankenstein of monster fame. Vee aspires to be the greatest scientist of all time (not surprising considering their heritage) by bringing a piece of matzah to life, which they then plan to enter in the school’s science fair. They succeed. Manny the manztah (matzah + monster) escapes from the basement and, to Vee’s dismay, makes a surprise appearance at the family seder. Manny pleads with Vee’s astonished parents, “People, let me go.” At first horrified, Vee’s mom soon “kvells” over her child’s achievement. Vee promises Manny that they are not Pharaoh and will let Manny go free. Grateful Manny turns out to be a mensch and allows Vee to enter him in the science fair.
While Frankenstein’s Matzah is funny and creative, I think its target age may be a bit above picture book level. The combination of Vee’s thoughts with the back and forth conversations among all the characters, often all in one frame, and the conducting of science experiments mid-seder, could led to some confusion for the youngest picture book readers. In addition, the scenes changing from basement to dining room could benefit from a narrative transition. A slightly older audience, however, might find this quirky story with the lively and busy graphics delightful, and their adults will appreciate the spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

The Yiddish gives the book lots of Ashkenazic Jewish cultural content, and there are casual mentions of afikomen, bread of affliction, Elijah, and the four questions.

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Reviewer Arlene Schenker has a degree in Child Development from Cornell University and a Juris Doctor from New York University Law School. She has worked as a New York City primary grade teacher, a lawyer, divorce mediator, and a community activist and volunteer. Her debut picture book, CALL ME GEBYANESH, will be published by Apples & Honey Press in Spring 2025.