In Robert Paul Weston's "The Creature Department," written for children ages 8 to 12, two young friends named Elliot and Leslie find there's little that's exciting about their small town, except for DENKi-3000, the world's eighth largest electronics factory.
While on a tour of the factory, they discover a secret underground research and development department that's run by a motley crew of inventive creatures.
"The Creature Department"By Robert Paul Weston
Razorbill, 352 pages, $16.99, robertpaulweston.com/
The creatures are a giggle-inducing example of an imagination run wild: There's a Knucklecrumpler, which looks like a giant salamander but has dreadlocks and giant hands to match. There are hunched-over trolls with overbites and broken teeth, and there are huge, hairy beastly looking things with horns.
(A word to parents: The descriptions are more inventive and silly than scary.)
Elliot and Leslie's recent discovery is at risk of being shut down if the creatures don't come up with a new invention with a major "wow" factor. They team up with the creatures to help save the day.
"The Creature Department" has been compared to books by Roald Dahl. And it makes sense why such comparisons have been made. It would be fun to read this book to kids -- or watch them devour it on their own.