From Drawing to Creature to Department

The YA book THE CREATURE DEPARTMENT is full of fun, excitement, suspense, humor, yummy food, corporate espionage, memories, and lovable folks. The writer Robert Paul Weston really created something absolutely wonderful in prose. A whole new “universe” that is full of more to explore once you’ve put the book down. If the book was just words it would stand strongly and be a worthwhile read, but the art and illustrations made up by Zack Lydon and the entire team at Framestore really made it a book to behold and enjoy.

The most amazing part is that when the book was just in galley format with just possible sketches it truly blew me away. These sketches became paintings and in the case of one Gugor, who has also made appearances at Book Expo America and New York Comic Con 2013 delighting buyers, readers, kids and unsuspecting adults alike, a fully realized CGI model.

The best to show that off is to actually show you some of that development.

Here’s an image of Gugor from the galley:

this is an image of color painting Gugor from the official book trailer:

Here’s a 3D model:

and this is the Final Gugor at Book Expo and then at New York Comic Con where there was an amazing display (which you can see in the image that tops this review/article/presentation):

As charming and as wonderful as these images are they barely capture the essence of the book and the images contained within it (both through the words and the actual illustrations).  The book introduces us to an assortment of amazing characters with immense personality and the setting for what could one day be both an amazing series of books as well as an excellent TV series.  There is something inherently perfect in super smart kids, above average parents, a crazy scientist and a town that from the outside seems completely normal and quaint but hides an amazing secret, a secret that is actually one that for all we know is actually a reality in our world.  I mean seriously, Bacon Chapstick?  That sounds like something only a creature could figure out how to make right.

“Most Belated Review of Whipple EVER”

Doing something extra ordinary which one gets acknowledged for does not always happen. Getting acknowledged for feats that belong in a world record book? That happens even less frequently, but it does. Yet, it’s not often that a family garners multiple awards in the Guiness Book of World Records, the only type of record book of its like that I am aware exists. Yet in the Matthew Ward’s hilarious, fun, mysterious, dramatic and adventure romp The Fantastic Family Whipple such a family exists. A large family which has won awards for what may seem like the most mundane of things, such as (as these are ones I’m making up but I’m sure someone in the Whipples won at some point) balancing the most amount of toothsticks on your pinky for the most amount of time or the most amount of chimichongas engorged in the fastest time.

Now imagine if you were a member of this family, a family which has many many brothers and sisters, in age ranges from teenagers to still in diapers. Imagine you are the middle child in such a family and you have never won any award, got no acknowledgment… you are basically the failure of the family. That’s exactly the situation Arthur Whipple finds himself in this “fantastic” Middle grade book written with enough adult humor and easy situations to truly be considered all ages and easily appreciated by a variety of readers. Quickly the book becomes an amalgam of mystery and suspense as the drama and comedy unfolds. We meet many interesting characters AND animals as well as clowns of all shapes and sizes and demeanor along the way.

As a debut novel, Matthew Ward has proven to be a great new voice in the field, and has also been a really enjoyable twitter feed as well as the fact that he’s really funny as a performer as evidenced by his attempts of breaking World Records himself.

THE FANTASTIC FAMILY WHIPPLE came out in August 2013 from Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin, so it’s available NOW at book stores everywhere. Go get it.

And to finish my article here’s my snap of Matt at Book Expo 2013: