The book is an instruction manual that describes how to assemble and use a Monstermatic toy – a huge robotic creature that behaves like an unruly monster.
Although the original editions have been out of print for several years, the book has continued to prove popular with primary schools and I often receive emails from teachers asking where they can buy copies for classroom use. This continuing demand is one of the reasons we’ve created this new edition. Another reason is that Mark and I are immensely fond of the book!
Schools often use the book as an engaging example of technical or instructional literature. Before writing the book’s rhyming text, I read through lots of user’s guides for various electronic devices, including real robotic toys, to get a feel for the language and how their texts were organised. Writing rhyme that scans well, makes sense and provides an opportunity for appealing illustrations is a difficult task in itself. Doing all this while spoofing the style of a technical author proved almost impossible and I abandoned the text several times before completing it. So I was delighted when – a decade later – I came across a smashing review of the book, written by a technical author, which included the following comment:
“After 25+ years and 10 national conferences, this picture book is the best and most enjoyable explanation of my job that I’ve encountered. If Jonathan Emmett submitted this instead of a CV (resumé) for a technical writing role, he should be interviewed immediately.”
The book was written in response to a suggestion from illustrator Mark Oliver and Mark and I developed the concept together before presenting it to publishers. Mark also studied the style and format of genuine user’s guides and his illustrations for the book are a skilful mash-up of intricately detailed technical drawing and characterful picture book illustration.
To mark the publication of this new edition we’ve created a Monstermatic Poster and Criss-Cross activity sheet, which you can download by clicking on the images below.
You can order the new print-on-demand edition of Monsters: An Owner’s Guide from Amazon in the UK and US, using the links below.