Study Guide

Here Be Monsters! An Adventure Involving Magic, Trolls, and Other Creatures; The Ratbridge Chronicles Volume 1

By Alan Snow

Here Be Monsters! An Adventure Involving Magic, Trolls, and Other Creatures; The Ratbridge Chronicles Volume 1 Introduction

If you've ever wondered about where the tastiest of foods—a.k.a. cheese—comes from, then you're in luck: Here Be Monsters! answers that question in no uncertain terms. Cheeses run wild in the woods surrounding the town of Ratbridge, and men on horseback capture them and lead them to captivity, where they can be shepherded and then eaten.

The cheese hunt is only the tip of the iceberg, though. We follow along as Arthur, a boy who grew up underground, makes friends with an unlikely bunch of monsters, humans, and pirates, banding together to try to foil the villainous Snatcher's evil plot, which involves resizing monsters, fooling fashionistas, and… you guessed it… hunting cheeses.

If this all sounds bizarre, well, it kind of is. But, come on—monsters, pirates, cheeses running wild? Totally entertaining. And because author Alan Snow is an accomplished illustrator, too, we get over five hundred drawings to accompany the story. And that, friends, is just gravy, since we didn't all pop out of the womb knowing what monsters like boxtrolls or cabbageheads look like.

First published in Britain back in 2005, this book made its way to the United States a couple years later. And when it did, it captured the hearts and imaginations of the folks who made the movie Coraline, so hunker down, get caught up on Arthur's adventures in Ratbridge, and then prepare to enter the debate about whether the book is better than the movie. If that doesn't pique your interest, though, we'll leave you with one thought: cheese.

What is Here Be Monsters! An Adventure Involving Magic, Trolls, and Other Creatures; The Ratbridge Chronicles Volume 1 About and Why Should I Care?

This is a book about monsters, you say? What do we even mean by monster these days anyway? Are we talking Frankenstein's monster, Dexter, aliens, vampires, or what?

In Here Be Monsters! we see some critters that are, technically, considered monsters because they're not human—boxtrolls, cabbageheads, and so on. But most of them are pretty considerate and nice, so that makes us wonder: Should we keep calling them monsters? Have they really earned the title?

By way of contrast, consider the way the human villains behave: They lie, swindle, cheat, bully, and betray their fellow humans, and do even worse to non-humans. These dudes seem to have no sense of ethics—they even turn on each other—which again calls into question who, exactly, deserves to be categorized as a monster. Are we talking about the adorably awkward underlings, or the grotesquely cruel human villains?

If you're paying attention in Here Be Monsters! you'll see that monster is applied to a class of creature, not as a judgment of behavior. You may want to think a bit about whether you agree with that characterization, though. Can you tell who is a monster just by looking at them? After all, lots of ordinary-looking people end up in jail for committing monstrous acts. We spend our lives surrounded by people who look remarkably normal on the outside, but who knows what they're really capable of? It's worth thinking about, kiddos, and this book invites us to do just that.

Here Be Monsters! An Adventure Involving Magic, Trolls, and Other Creatures; The Ratbridge Chronicles Volume 1 Resources

Websites

Here Be Monsters! Homepage
This book has one of the coolest websites ever. It's filled with super cool art from the book that's been assembled in an imaginative way, and tidbits include wallpapers, reviews, and a recipe that you may or may not want to try at home.

Movie or TV Productions

The Boxtrolls
This is the movie version of Here Be Monsters!—with a book this imaginative, it's only fitting that it get the silver screen treatment.

Articles and Interviews

Press Release for The Boxtrolls
Read on to see which themes from the book the movie focuses on, and what changes were made.

Book Review of Here Be Monsters!
Curious as a kid, educator, parent, or boxtroll what this book has going on in it? Check out this review.

Video

Trailer #1 for The Boxtrolls
Looks like they changed some stuff from the book, such as having Arthur actually be raised by boxtrolls. Bummer, Grandfather.

Trailer #2 for The Boxtrolls
This trailer is all about behind-the-scenes 3D animation techniques, so if you've ever wanted an upclose look at that process, be sure to check this link out.

Trailer #3 for The Boxtrolls
Looks like they introduced a female character who's Arthur's age. This should be interesting…

Audio

NPR's Weekend Edition on Here Be Monsters!
This short snippet of a show includes a mention of Here Be Monsters! alongside a few other children's books.

Images

An Alternate Cover for Here Be Monsters!
We think that's one cute-looking boxtroll, don't you?

A Photo of Alan Snow
He almost looks like he belongs in the book, huh? Just throw a top hat on and he's good to go.