Penguin’s Razorbill imprint is getting into the monster business this fall, and they’re turning to experts for help: special effects and design studio Framestore, which has created creatures of every shape, stripe, and scale for Where the Wild Things Are, The Tale of Despereaux, The Golden Compass (for which they won an Academy Award), and the Harry Potter movies, among many other films. Framestore is collaborating with Razorbill and author Robert Paul Weston on The Creature Department, a middle-grade novel about siblings who befriend the creatures hidden inside DENKI-3000, “the world’s fifth or sixth largest electronics company.”
Framestore will be providing “visual input” for the book, as well as animated fodder for an accompanying Web site and app, where readers will be able to further explore the creations and characters from the book (click here for an animated version of the book’s cover). But according to Ben Schrank, president and publisher at Razorbill, this isn’t so much multiplatform storytelling as “experimentation.”
“We want to engage with different kinds of storytellers, combining creative people we think can do a great job of telling a dynamic story,” says Schrank, adding that the project has been a “true collaboration” with all three parties “from inception.” While readers will be able to explore the world of The Creature Department through the animations and digital extras that Framestore is contributing, they aren’t a prerequisite for reading the book. “Fundamentally, Razorbill and Framestore and Rob [Weston] – we all have always felt that everything stems from a great story,” says Schrank. “This is a great story, and we believe kids should be able to read it without having to go flip a coin on a Web site.”
The Creature Department is Weston’s fourth novel with Razorbill; the book is tentatively scheduled to be published in November. Readers don’t need until then to meet the monsters, though: creatures from the book will be featured this year at BookExpo America and San Diego Comic-Con.