Happy Halloween, Frankenbunny!

When my kids were little, one of the picture books they particularly loved was Nancy Carson’s Loud-Mouth George & the Sixth-Grade Bully. As I turned pages, getting closer and closer to the moment the bully got his comeuppance, they’d be leaning into me, practically clapping, gleefully anticipating that page turn. When it came, they’d crack up and fall backwards giggling. Every time. Gosh, who doesn’t like to see a bully get his? But…

In real life, we’re taught to handle bullying in rational ways, and those perfect paybacks remain imaginary, at least for most of us. But I didn’t want to write about real life. I wanted to write a story in which the bullied kiddo at the end of his rope finds a way to stop the bullies, all on his own. And I wanted to create “that page.” Or, you know, cross my fingers for an illustrator who could. Fortunately, my editor found Alice Brereton (Thanks, EB!).And boy, did she nail it.

My Frankenbunny (Sterling) has just hit the shelves, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that he made it in time for Halloween. It isn’t a Halloween book, exactly. But the monster-centric story could slip right into a Halloween reading list. Here’s the flap copy:

“When his big brothers tell him about scary Frankenbunny, Spencer doesn’t believe them. He knows monsters aren’t real. But his brothers keep up their scary talk until Spencer forgets what he knows. After he discovers that the stories were just a mean trick, Spencer hatches a plan to teach his brothers a lesson they’ll never forget. Will it work?”

Poor Spencer. His brothers just will. not. let. up with their tales of the dreaded Frankenbunny. Outdoors, indoors ….He can’t even brush his teeth in peace.

He tattles to Mama. Papa, too. But their solutions don’t work. Then Spencer stumbles upon his brothers’ evil plan and realizes that the only thing that will stop them is a taste of their own medicine. And that he, Spencer, can make it happen.

Alice Brereton was kind enough to join us to answer a few questions about the creation of Frankenbunny.

JE:  Welcome, Alice! First question:  Why did you feel that Frankenbunny was a story you wanted to illustrate?

AB:  Because it was scary! I wanted to work on something different and not the usual. But I also had the opportunity to draw adorable bunnies. I tried drawing them more realistically in the beginning, but it was starting to look a little bit like Watership Down. I still haven’t managed to finish that movie since I was eleven…


JE:  I love the illustrations, of course, but I think my favorite [not shown here] is the one in which Spencer attempts reporting his brothers’ bullying to his mother, who is sitting on a porch swing, nose in a book, and her advice to him is a distracted “Ignore them, dear,” while she’s doing exactly that. His body language there is priceless. Can you tell me anything about the creation of that scene?

AB:  My mom reads A LOT.

JE:  LOL, I can relate. Regarding the scary factor:  A few editors passed on the story because they thought it would scare kids. Yet you managed to give us a Frankenbunny that kids will clearly see is a costume, giving Spencer his big moment and making it hilarious, too. Did coming up with that spread give you trouble, or were you picturing it from the start?

AB:  In the beginning I drew several versions of Frankenbunny, but after a lot of doodling and pondering I discovered (much like Spencer) that unfortunately Frankenbunny wasn’t real and I shouldn’t draw him as more than a monster on the television.

After that the rest of the spread went surprisingly well. I drew Spencer’s costume and made sure to incorporate its elements into the rest of the book (or items in the book to his costume), sketched it out, and then the final spread went very smoothly.

[Note:  The spread before this one is mostly black. Moonlight shines through a window, backlighting a short someone standing on the brothers’ nightstand as they sleep peacefully. Giant green text reads:  “I AM FRANKENBUNNY!”]

JE:  I think kids will have fun identifying the various elements of Spencer’s costume. I know I did. So how did you come to picture book illustrating, and what’s next for you?

AB:  I googled blue whales and discovered that the closest place to easily see them in the USA was San Francisco. I looked up art schools in the area and found the Academy of Art University. Took the train to AAU, got A’s! (and some C’S), made wonderful friends, ate black bean burritos, pestered my lovely teachers, met Julie Downing (who clued me into the very idea of being a children’s illustrator), graduated and then eventually saw humpback whales!!! What’s next for me is hopefully more books to illustrate and hopefully one I’ve written myself!

I know you readers like a glimpse of other people’s workspaces, so here’s Alice’s (note her little assistant, Daisy):

Thanks, Alice! For the interview and for the spooky/funny world you created for Frankenbunny! Readers, you can learn more about Alice and her work by clicking here.

We’re offering TWO giveaway copies of Frankenbunny, and all you have to do, as usual, is leave a comment below by Friday, November 3rd. I’ll notify the winners as soon as I draw names and let the rest of you know in my next post.

Thanks for reading about my book. Hope you’ll give it a look!


Jill Esbaum

Jill Esbaum has been picture book crazy since her 3 kids were little, and especially so after her first was published in 2004 (Stink Soup). Recent titles: Stinkbird Has a Superpower, Jack Knight's Brave Flight, Where'd My Jo Go?, Frog Boots, How to Grow a Dinosaur, Frankenbunny, If a T. Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party, Elwood Bigfoot– Wanted: Birdie Friends!, Teeny Tiny Toady, I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!, and more. Coming in 2024: Parrotfish Has a Superpower and Bird Girl: Gene Stratton-Porter Shares Her Love of Nature with the World. She's also the author of many nonfiction books for young readers, as well as an early graphic reader series, Thunder & Cluck. Learn more at http://jillesbaum.com.


  1. Congrats Jill. I can’t wait to hold this book. I love Frankenbunny and you’re right, it will be perfect for Halloween.

  2. Oh this looks so fun. I can relate. (I had sister…)

  3. I’ve been looking forward to this once ever since I first saw that cover!

  4. I wasn’t aware of Frankenbunny, but I am now! Can’t wait to see it in person.

  5. Yay, just in time for Halloween! Can’t wait to grab this off the shelf. Congrats to both of you.

  6. Congrats! This book looks terrific. I love the illustration egg-hunt for the costume!

  7. I love this book Jill! It is hilarious. Brings back so many memories of how much we loved scaring each other when we were growing up.

    • Yeah, what is it about siblings trying to scare each other, Dorothia? I never had a younger bro/sis, so I never had the opportunity … until I had my own kiddos. Ha. πŸ˜‰

  8. I love it!! Wonderful to meet Alice here. Congrats to you both!

    And kudos to Sterling for recognizing that kids LIKE a little bit of scary. πŸ™‚

  9. Perfect book for the season but long also long for the theme. Bullies are everywhere, so learning to deal with them through this picture book, even if in real life readers may not be able to pull it off, will at least give some hope and humor! Love it. Congratulations!

  10. Lindsay Hanson Metcalf

    I’ve been drooling to get this ever since you read it to us at Whispering Woods. Love the use of second person and the illustrations. Congrats, you two!

  11. I’m excited to read this newest one, Jill! So great to learn a little about the journey of the story as well as the introduction to Alice Brereton! Congrats to you both!

  12. This looks fabulous Jill and Alice! We would love to add a copy to our school library! Even if we don’t win, I know the kids will have it in their hands as soon as possible! I especially love the list, nothing like a good pair of oven mitts when planning on scaring someone!

  13. Can’t wait to see the comeuppance and have a roaring good laugh! It’s on order! Thanks.

  14. Such fun! Thanks for sharing!

  15. This looks ever so clever, Ladies. A must read, for sure.

  16. Alice’s use of shadow is a great match for the mood and emotion! Also really enjoy seeing “drawings of drawings” in books! Looks great, Jill.

  17. This looks amazing, Jill! Love how Alice came up with the costume of household items. Can’t wait to read!

    • I love that, too, Lori. My illustration suggestion was that the costume be made up of the sports equipment found in the boys’ closet. I’m soooo glad Alice pulled in items from around the house! The oven mitt cracked me up and made the whole image fun. Exactly what it needed to be.

  18. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. It sounds incredible! Thanks for sharing.

  19. So looking forward to this one! Congratulations Jill and Alice!!!

  20. I love a good scary book! This looks like so much fun. Congratulations to you both!

  21. Congratulations, Jill and Alice! What a delightfully scary-looking book. I can’t wait to read it. Woohoo!

  22. Oh, I can see kids having a blast going back and finding all the makings of the Frankenbunny costume! Congrats to both of you.

  23. The book looks so fun and the write up definitely got me intrigued

  24. Wonderful to learn about Alice’s doodling process to figure out how to illustrate the words. Cannot wait to read and study this for page turns and see how he solves his problem. Including the shot of her work space and assistant is precious.

  25. I’m excited to share this one with my little guy. He loves scary!

  26. danielle hammelef

    This books is so much fun! I can’t wait to read it for myself. And Daisy is so cute!!

  27. This looks great! I’m reserving it from my library so I can read it. Thanks for the post.

  28. Yes–this looks like lots of fun!!

  29. Congratulations to both of you on the this book! It looks hilarious and I love it when mean people get their comeuppance. And I am in love with Alice’s assistant, Daisy! πŸ˜€

  30. I am looking forward to reading Frankenbunny to my grandson. It looks so fun!

  31. I will look for this today. I think all younger siblings can relate…

  32. For sure, Mary. (At least in the families I know!)

  33. This looks sooo good! The artwork is amazing! Can’t wait to read!

  34. Hope you like it, Mary! πŸ™‚

  35. I can’t wait to share this kids. They’ll love it (I know I will, too.)

  36. Oh my gosh! Is this an adorable book. Congratulations, Jill!

  37. This looks like such a fun book! I want to read it. Thanks for sharing.

  38. You’re welcome, Ashley! Thanks for visiting.

  39. Thanks Jill and Alice! Always looking for fun Halloween books!

  40. What a fun book, Jill! Terrific job, Congratulations!!!!!!

  41. Stacy Digianantonio

    I can’t wait to read this book. I love the illustrations shown and look forward to feasting my eyes on the rest of them!

  42. Loved this story behind the story, Jill and Alice. Can’t wait to share this one with the grandsons.

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