Steampunk Alphabet

Author: Written & Illustrated by Nathanael Iwafa

Age/Audience: Children 4+

Genre/Style: Alphabet and rhyme book, art book

Read If You Like: Art books, easy rhymes, nonfiction children’s books, abecedary books



This chunky, thick-paged, brightly illustrated alphabet book has a little something for everyone. For early readers the playful rhymes describe a mix of reality and make-believe. Four line poems about A for Apple, F for Fish, P for Purse, and Z for Zipper match a bright original illustration for the steampunk adaptation of that item. For example, the Apple here is not a fruit, but a modified music box used as a listening device. Each poem is paired with a small prose description of the item in more detail. For adults the art is surely inspirational, and offer a great discussion and imagination starter with youngsters.


Bottom Line: Cute, bright, and highly imaginative Steampunk Alphabet offers a new spin on early rhyme readers and is approachable but far from boring.



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Steampunk Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Author: Mary Shelley, Illustrations by Zdenko Bašić and Manuel Sumberac
Series: –

Age/Audience: Late teens

Genre/Style: Classic horror

Read If You Like: Frankenstein, Victorian Monsters, Classics


The story – Victor Frankenstein is an up and coming scientist from a Geneva aristocratic family. After the death of his mother from scarlet fever, he is inspired to finish his studies so he can return to Geneva and marry his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth and complete his family once again. While at school Victor becomes obsessed with natural philosophy, and the notion that he could do the unthinkable, give life back to the dead. After months of study and midnight experiments he finally manages to create his masterpiece. But genius isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and soon things are far beyond Frankenstein’s control. As the death toll grows, is there anything that can be done to stop The Monster?

The Adaptation – I had a hard time deciding how I felt about this particular edition of Frankenstein. Given the heft of the book, and the obvious intention for it to be a steampunk adaptation through the inclusion of new illustration, not modification of the text I expected a lot more. Shelley’s original story is presented in half filled pages paired with too small illustrations too far in between. The kicker, though, is the illustrations are barely steampunk. They are filled with gears and goggles, but nothing functional and nothing in detail. I had very high hopes and this simply didn’t meet them. The cover, however, is fantastic to look at. If only the insides were as intriguing.


Bottom Line:

Not worth the weight. If you want a fantastically steampunk illustrated Frankenstein look into Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein.

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Costume in Detail: 1730 to 1930

Author: Nancy Bradfield
Series: –

Age/Audience: Those in the “fashion know” or with a Google window open

Genre/Style: Nonfiction fashion history, illustrations/diagrams

Read If You Like: History of fashion, change in fashion over time



This non-fiction, period illustrated, detail oriented book is not aimed at a mass-market. Instead Bradfield is speaking to people who already have an assumed base understanding in fashion/textiles, most notably the specific vocabulary used in the time periods covered. The book is filled with illustrations, though, to support understanding – but anyone who is unsure what a hooped petticoat or a crinoline might be is advised to have Google open on the side.

For steampunk enthusiasts this book offers itself up to many uses. For costume design, the detailed diagrams and illustrations offer inspiration and creation considerations, giving creators options to pick and choose pieces from the whole Victorian era to match their need. For researchers and writers Bradfield has created a one-stop-shop for vocabulary and description of period-correct dress for women (with a few nods to men’s fashion, too). Also particularly important for writers, Bradfield keeps styles separated by year. While many people view Victorian costume as all one style, there were a wide variety of fashions by year, just as we have today. One of the most notable fluctuations is in the size and detail of the bustle, which comes through both in the illustrations and Bradfield’s commentary.


Bottom Line:

A fantastic and detailed resource for writers and researchers who want to use correct fashions and vocabulary.

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The Art of Steampunk

by Art Donovan AND 1,000 Steampunk Creations by Dr. Grymm (Barbie St John)

Age/Audience: All Ages

Genre/Style: Art books

Read If You Like: A short steampunk history lesson, Full color inspiration, coffee table books, steampunk art/costume/crafts



I chose to list these books together because they serve the same audience: readers who want to see Steampunk items in a variety of mediums. Both books are filled with large, full color (fully cited) images of all things steam: inventions, costumes, hats, and home decore. Neither book includes any instructions for construction, but The Art of Steampunk does include a small synopsis of the item’s components. Additionally, Donovan’s book includes a short essay called “Steampunk 101” by G. D. Falksen, which offers a concise, authoritative description for steampunk that releases students from having to cite Wikipedia.


Bottom Line:

Pictures of Steampunk items can serve as inspiration for any number of projects, and the variety shown in these two volumes make for quick work. The Falksen essay is also helpful as a starting point for helping fans articulate their ideas of what steampunk actually is.


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Author: Scott Westerfeld
Series: First of a trilogy (Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath)

Age/Audience: YA – 7- 10th grade

Genre/Style: Alternate history

Read If You Like: WWI history, genetics, adventure/war stories, European history, women in science/engineering


In this alternate WWI Europe, the map is split between two groups. On one side is the Darwinist English who use modified animals as war machines, airships, and communication devices. On the other, the German Clankers whose iron machine based culture puts them at fundamental odds with the British: and both sides are itching for war. Caught in the middle is the young illegitimate Alek, son of Archduke Ferdinand. With his parents’ assassination Alek’s life is in danger, and with the help of trusted servants and a Stormwalker gun machine he hopes to survive the declaration of war by racing across Germany to neutral Switzerland.

Meanwhile Deryn can’t wait to join the battle. Disguising herself as a boy “Dylan” enlists in the British Airforce and joins the crew of Leviathan, a modified whale turned airship. Onboard Leviathan is Dr Nora Darwin Barlow, a scientist who promises British victory with her new secret weapon – but what is it?

As Europe is plunged into what would prove to be its bloodiest conflict what can be done to stop it? After Leviathan crash lands next to Alek’s Swiss safe-house, it seems the two cultures have more to learn from each other than they would ever admit, and it may be the key to saving not only their own lives, but all of Europe.


Bottom Line: Great read to create a bridge between fiction and non-fiction, really well paced, complex female characters (in the sciences and the military to boot!).

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