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Penguin Group (USA) LLC
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The Creature Department Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Elliot von Doppler is a science-obsessed twelve year-old. Leslie Fang could be described the same way. But while Elliot grew up in Bickleburgh, Leslie just moved to town with her mother, and the two children only know each other because they tied for 3rd place in a science competition. When Elliot finally gets the chance to tour the famous DENKi-3000 electronics factory (and really the only exciting thing about the entire city of Bickleburgh!), Leslie is invited too. There they discover that Elliot's uncle Archimedes has been in charge of a most interesting research and development department - one run by and devoted to Creatures! Elliot and Leslie will need to race against time to help the Creatures invent one more new product and prevent the shutdown of DENKi-3000.
In The Creature Department, Robert Paul Weston introduces a laboratory full of inventive monsters who work with Creature physics (entirely different from human science!) to create new, exciting and original inventions. They invent things like TransMints, which combine elements of technology, freshness, and the best memories of winter to produce some of the finest candies ever. The trouble is that the Creatures (all uniquely terrifying/interesting/wondrous in their own ways) haven't invented anything in a long while, and the company's shareholders are getting restless. They are even considering selling to Quazicom Holdings, run by the mysterious Chief, a shadowy figure with less-than-honorable intentions. Into this world of deadlines and science wander Elliot and Leslie, two curious kids who might possess the Knack needed to come up with something truly special to save the day.
The Creature Department is an appealing tale of non-humans of all shapes, sizes, and strengths, and the power of friendship to bring any group together. Weston writes convincingly of Creature attributes that may make the reader grimace, squirm, or crow with delight, and possibly all at the same time. It's full of middle grade appeal, with a glow-in-the-dark cover, gorgeous illustrations throughout by Framestore artists, gobs of snot and goo, and enough journeys above and below ground to please most readers' expectations for adventure.
That said, the characters were simply that - characters. With one or two exceptions, they remained static. In addition, there were a few scenes that tried to make something of the fact that Elliot is a boy and Leslie is a girl and they're working together *wink, wink*, which seemed out of place in the narrative. Creature science also bears no relation to human science (duh). If you let your imagination run wild it's a lot of FUN, and a quick, simple, fantastical trip into a weird and astonishing secret world.
Recommended for: fans of the Disney/Pixar Monsters, Inc. films, young readers who enjoy off-the-wall adventure and stories about kids saving the day, and people of all ages who daydream about impossible inventions.
(review originally posted at: [...]
Elliot is shocked to discover that his uncle works at a factory where all the inventions and technology are actually developed by a bunch of 'creatures.' Creatures such as Jean-Remy, the fairy bat, who is the Chief of Fiddly Bitology (fiddly bits) and Gugor the Kuncklecrumpler, Chief of Rickum Ruckery. Elliot and his friend Leslie are thrilled to be invited to help in the Creature Department. But the Denki-3000 factory has a big problem. They haven't put out any new inventions recently and are facing bankruptcy. If they can't come up with something great soon, the factory will be forced to close down. Can Elliot and Leslie help the creatures come up with something great before it's too late?
I absolutely loved this book. The illustrations add so much to the humor and quirkiness of the story. The creatures are definitely creatively presented and unique. It's clear that a lot of work went into making this book work and it does in fabulous ways. I can see kids really getting into this book, at least the ones who aren't afraid to let go of their imaginations and let them soar.
Before I discuss the story, I need to talk about how pretty this book is! The title on the cover is raised and with each letter being shaped like a different creature, it looks super adorable. Also, the book jacket uses some glow-in-the-dark ink, so it glows (in the dark). This is the second book I have read recently that glows, and I love it. I think this gimmick is especially fun, because this is a book aimed at middle graders and the book is about creatures (I like the idea of kids reading this book in the dark with a flashlight). Once you open the book itself, you discover that the pages are just as beautiful as the cover. There are beautiful drawings every couple of pages, and there is a full page picture at the start of each chapter. The illustrations are gorgeous and the right level of cartoon-y for the story. I find myself looking back to the book just to flip through the pages and smile at the pictures. I should mention that although there are a lot of pictures, they are not overwhelming the text. This book should not be mistaken as a picture book. The pictures add to the story; they don't take over the story.
Okay, let's discuss the story! This was a fun middle grade book. The world reminds me of something akin to a Series of Unfortunate Events or a Dr. Seuss book. Leslie and Elliot are normal kids, but everything around them is a bit odd. For example, Elliot's parents are food critics and want Elliot to go to Foodie School, so they want him to describe all of their failed trials at cooking. Uncle Archie and his team of creatures created wireless mints that download great minty taste into your mouth. As you can see, the Elliot and Leslie's world is contemporary to ours but a little bit "plus-ed."
In regards to the plot, it was a cute story. Leslie and Elliot work together with the creatures and Uncle Archie to build a new invention that will keep the DENKi-3000 company in business. The story focuses on making friends even though they may look different from you and using your imagination. There were two weird side plots that had me scratching my head and feel a bit concerned about what message the book was making; however, everything was explained away by the end of the story and my worries were addressed and explained away.
Overall, this was a fun middle grade book. I wouldn't recommend this book for an adult who likes to take a dip in the MG/YA pool, but if you know a younger reader, this might be the perfect book for him or her. I give this book a 3 out of 5.
I received this item for free in exchange for an honest review.
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