I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Creature Department by Robert Paul Weston
Published by Penguin on 2013-11-05
Genres: Animals, Dragons, Unicorns & Mythical, Fantasy & Magic, School & Education, Young Adult
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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 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.
There are some books where mileage may vary depending on the reader, where it’s kind of hard to universally recommend or not to everyone. The Creature Department by Robert Paul Weston is a middle grade fantasy book where I’m on the fence about it. See, I typically love middle grade books that are fantasies and have no trouble saying HEY READ THIS. Unfortunately, The Creature Department skewed kind of young for me. That is not to say I did not enjoy reading the book, because I did, I thought it was cute. However, I’ve read much, much better middle grade books and so stacked up against, say, Breadcrumbs or The Aviary, this is not nearly on that level.
Bickleburgh is home to the fifth largest technology company in the world, DENKi-3000. Unfortunately, the doors of DENKI-3000 are about to close for good. Elliot’s uncle, Dr. Von Doppler is head of research and development and he’s finally issued an invitation for Elliot and his friend Leslie to tour the company. It’s too bad the invitation has come just before the closing of the company. When Elliot and Leslie visit, they discover that the company’s fantastic inventions have a secret, they were created by creatures, like mystical creatures and monsters. The pressure is on as Dr. Von Doppler is challenged to create a new invention in order to save the company. Elliot and Leslie are up for the challenge to help out and keep DENKi-3000 from being sold and taken over by a rival company.
Elliot is the son of two food critics and his parents are constantly threatening to cook him as a joke. Yet, they want Elliot to follow in his footsteps. However, that’s not where Elliot’s heart is. In fact, he thinks he wants to take a path similar to his uncle, Dr. Von Doppler. Elliot is a typical middle grade hero. He’s average with some quirks. Like, he always wears a green fishing vest over whatever outfit and does take some flack for it. He’s got a creative mind though and a good heart. As for Leslie, she’s a bit of a gothic girl and wasn’t really friends with Elliot until the invitation to tour the company. The two form a friendship, but there’s no romance or anything, thank goodness. That would be awkward to read, not gonna lie. Anyways, Leslie has it kind of hard because her mom is always moving and never setting down stakes or anything and she moves over the most ridiculous reasons. After seeing The Creature Department though, Leslie wants to stay in Bickleburgh. I think I liked reading about Leslie a tiny bit more than I liked reading about Elliot. Both characters do a good job carrying the plot of The Creature Department by Robert Paul Weston.
One neat thing about this book is that there are lots of illustrations of the characters and of the different creatures. I thought that was a nice little treat and really helped me to visualize the creatures. I did like reading The Creature Department and enjoyed how creative it was. I think that the comparisons to Monsters, Inc are apt, however, I’d rather watch Monsters, Inc for the 100th time than read this. I know, I know that sounds bad picking a movie over a book, but y’all that movie is boss. HOWEVER, if we took Monsters, Inc out of the equation, I would have to say that The Creature Department is definitely a good book for young elementary school readers, like third or fourth graders and I think it’s also quite family friendly.