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The Creature Department

The Creature Department

3.5 2
by Robert Paul Weston, Framestore

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"Stunning. . . . a bit like if you took Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Monsters Inc. and shoved them in a TARDIS."—Buzzfeed

It’s a tentacled, inventive, gooey, world in there. . . .

Elliot Von Doppler and his friend Leslie think nothing ever happens in Bickleburgh, except inside the gleaming headquarters of


"Stunning. . . . a bit like if you took Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Monsters Inc. and shoved them in a TARDIS."—Buzzfeed

It’s a tentacled, inventive, gooey, world in there. . . .

Elliot Von Doppler and his friend Leslie think nothing ever happens in Bickleburgh, except inside the gleaming headquarters of DENKi-3000—the world’s eighth-largest electronics factory.
Beneath the glass towers and glittering skywalks, there's a rambling old mansion from which all the company’s amazing inventions spring forth. And no one except Uncle Archie knows what’s behind the second-to-last door at the end of the hall.

Until Elliot and Leslie are invited to take a glimpse inside.

They find stooped, troll-like creatures with jutting jaws and broken teeth. Tiny winged things that sparkle as they fly. And huge, hulking, hairy nonhumans (with horns). It is unlike anything they’ve ever seen.

But when Chuck Brickweather threatens to shut down the DENKi-3000 factory if a new product isn’t presented soon, the creatures know they are in danger. And when Uncle Archie vanishes, it’s up to Elliot, Leslie, and every one of the unusual, er, “employees” to create an invention so astonishing it will save the Creature Department.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Weston’s whimsical novel meanders too much to become the sort of Roald Dahl tribute it suggests. Elliot von Doppler is the son of two food critics who are also appallingly awful cooks. When Elliot’s uncle Archie—head scientist at embattled local tech company DENKi-3000—invites him and fellow science fair competitor Leslie for a tour of the company, they discover that the secret to its innovations lies in the titular Creature Department. The 12-year-olds meet an assortment of bizarre creatures, including “expectorator operator Gabe, who “resembled a soft brown flagpole (with a potbelly)”; French vampire-fairy engineer Jean-Remy; and giant, dreadlocked, salamanderlike Gügor. After the parade of creatures, the core plot—preventing a hostile takeover of DENKi-3000—takes center stage, as the humans and creatures work frantically to create an invention that will make the company relevant again. Weston (Dust City) has perhaps too much fun with the goofy creations and creatures, while the corporate takeover storyline comes across more like an excuse for the monsters to exist than a plot in its own right. Art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jackie Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
"A literal Creature feature, with plenty of cinematic and digital spinoff potential." —Kirkus

"The Creature Department is sure to appeal to those middle graders who like a lot of silliness, a bit of rickum rockery, and a giggle of grossness..." — NY Journal of Books

“The language is fun, the mood slightly macabre, and the imagination explosive." —This is Infamous

“Filled with wonder and populated by strange beings. In other words, it’s pretty frickin’ great.” —Geeksmash

Underneath the eccentric creatures... eerie-yet-fun hidden laboratories, and whirring gizmos and gadgets, the appeal of The Creature Department lies within its more human values: friendship, being true to one’s dreams, standing up for what you think is right, and never giving up. —GeekMom

"The creatures are a giggle-inducing example of an imagination run wild..." —Associated Press

School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Twelve-year-old Elliott and his friend Leslie discover the secret behind a corporation's amazing inventions: all of the products were created by a group of fantastical "creatures" that include a security guard with a face that's "part walrus, part English bulldog," a tiny batlike fellow with a French accent, and other intriguing personalities. The children quickly befriend the creatures and join in on their invention projects. Meanwhile, the clandestine inventors are menaced by the evil schemes of corporate raiders in league with a much-less-friendly brand of monster. The premise of the mysterious creatures has solid appeal; so do the descriptions of their personalities and physical features, aided strongly by plentiful black-and-white illustrations. Full-page cartoon drawings open each of the 31 chapters, plus dozens of smaller images sprinkled throughout, lending extra life and humor to the characters, especially the creatures themselves, and the mystery behind what's threatening them isn't strongly compelling, but does include a couple of neat twists. Evil schemes and battle scenes are more funny than perilous, peppered with wisecracks and bits of amusing grossness, such as shots of giant snot globs. As lead characters, Elliott and Leslie are disappointingly ordinary; they are chosen to help the creatures by Elliott's scientist uncle, but neither one seems particularly interesting or unique. The creatures are the main appeal, though, and their antics, coupled with the strong visuals, will attract readers who enjoy imaginative, slightly silly fantasies.—Steven Engelfried, Wilsonville Public Library, OR
Kirkus Reviews
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Monsters, Inc. in this tale of two preteen geeks who help to save a local business from a (very) hostile takeover. Thanks to inventions like refreshing, wireless TransMints, DENKi-3000 is the fifth-largest tech firm in the world. But its secretive research-and-development department, run by Elliot von Doppler's enigmatic uncle Archimedes, hasn't produced in so long that the shareholders are on the verge of accepting a takeover bid from equally secretive Quazicom. Elliot discovers the reason for the hush-hush when he and new friend Leslie Fang take a private tour of the company headquarters and discover that DENKi-3000's R&D is staffed not by humans but by Creatures ranging from a diminutive French fairy-vampire to a more sizable and aptly dubbed "bombastadon," among many diverse others. Moreover, it later turns out that Quazicom is likewise owned by Creatures--malign Ghorks armed with both Taser-equipped security droids and the ability to shoot high-velocity boogers. Weston crafts a suspenseful if predictable plot that culminates in a wild melee and the unveiling of an awesome new invention, but the Creaturely cast (developed in collaboration with CGI studio Framestore) elbows both the human one and the storyline aside here to take center stage. A literal Creature feature, with plenty of cinematic and digital spinoff potential. (illustrations, webpage and app still under development) (Fantasy. 10-13)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
The Creature Department , #1
Sold by:
Penguin Group
700L (what's this?)
File size:
23 MB
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Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"The creatures are a giggle-inducing example of an imagination run wild..." —Associated Press

Meet the Author

Robert Paul Weston lives in London, England, in a crumbling old building, hidden behind shiny glass towers. His first novel-in-verse, Zorgamazoo, recieved the California Young Reader’s Medal, the Silver Birch Award, the Children’s Choice Award, and an E.B. White Read Aloud Honor. The hardboiled fairy tale Dust City was nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Young Adult Mystery. In February 2013, he published Prince Puggly of Spud and the Kingdom of Spiff. Although he writes all his books with a mechanical pencil, it’s not electric and doesn’t come with a telescopic lens. 
Framestore is a visual effects studio based in London, New York, Los Angeles, and most recently Montreal. Their work can be seen in all eight of the Harry Potter films, Where the Wild Things Are, War Horse, and The Golden Compass, for which they won the Oscar for best visual effects. Framestore is also responsible for the creatures and astonishing effects in movies like Ben Stiller’s Walter Mitty; Gravity, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock; the samurai epic 47 Ronin, starring Keanu Reeves; Jupiter Ascending by the Wachowskis; Iron Man 3; and Robocop.

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The Creature Department 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
book4children More than 1 year ago
Fantastic adventure! This is a delightful and kid-friendly romp through a mysterious company that invents amazing things. The Creature Department encompasses everything that appeals to kids. Monsters, crazy inventions, flying boogers, finger pulling (with the accompanying fart), and some high flying superhero action. This book is funny, complex, interesting, and wildly entertaining. It starts off a little slow, but gets interesting very quickly. The characters are a lot of fun and each one has a unique personality that makes them memorable. I love the choices in each character's clothing. Elliot's fishing vest caused me to laugh on more than one occasion. There is a lot of action in the second half of the book and a lot of surprises that kids will love. The only thing I didn't really like about the book was the predictable way things wrapped up. It is a very fun book for kids, but I would have liked to see it be a little less predictable. But in all honesty, I doubt if the kids that read this book will have the same (if any) complaint. This is a super fun book that kids will absolutely love. Content: Clean, unless you find farting offensive. ;)
majibookshelf More than 1 year ago
Elliot von Doppler lives in the most uneventful place on Earth, Bickleburgh. The most interesting thing there is the headquarters of the 8th largest factory on the planet, DENKi-3000. Glittering skyscrapers are about the most interesting thing in the whole city, but only Elliot’s uncle, Archie, knows what goes on behind the second-to-last door at the end of the hall...until now. When Elliot’s uncle invites him and a strange girl Leslie (who coincidentally made the same rocket as him in a science fair) to take a tour of the DENKi-3000, Elliot jumps on the opportunity, and discovers what exactly goes on inside the mysterious Research & Development department. But when a rival company sends in a spy and tries to use force to take the factory away, it up to Elliot, Leslie, and some rather odd friends to save the factory. I liked this book! I liked the topic, and the characters are very cute. I can’t relate to many characters, because Elliot has a somewhat sciencey side, while Leslie’s demeanor screams GOTH. I am neither sciencey or goth, so their personalities were not relatable. They each had their own quirks, which I think is a good touch to a character. At first, I wasn't engaged immediately, which was weird because the beginning was so interesting. I haven't read a book where the first sentence was of the Elliots’ mom was threatening to boil him in soup (which is explained a couple sentences later, but I assure you his parents aren’t cannibals)! The ending was good, but I’m guessing there will be another book after this, because it left you with questions. The writing style was third person, but alternating which character was being narrated, which is an odd but interesting style for me. This book is good for kids ages 8-12 and was a cute and easy read. Also, the finished copy is so pretty! Thank you Razorbill for sending me a finished copy. I love the glow in the dark cover as well as all the illustrations inside the book.