cover image The Creature Department

The Creature Department

Robert Paul Weston. Razorbill, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-59514-685-4

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.)