Claire Freedman and Ben Cort | "We work well together and seem to be on the same wavelength"

Claire Freedman and Ben Cort | "We work well together and seem to be on the same wavelength"

Claire Freedman and Ben Cort are household names thanks to their bestselling Aliens series, which began with Aliens Love Underpants. Now the duo have turned to a new creation, Monstersaurus (S&S, September) which offers plenty of promise for sequels, too.

In Monstersaurus—a kind of Morris the Mankiest Monster meets the Gruffalo—a boy decides to create his own monster, but finds himself with two very different monsters on his hands. Thankfully, the final monster, Monstersaurus, knows just how to put things right.

Author Claire Freedman says that after writing four books about aliens, dinosaurs and underpants, it was time for something different. "Children do love monsters and when I thought of the name Monstersaurus, that was the start. Then I let my mind go wild about what monsters could be created.

"It took me longer than my other books to write—about a year—just working out the characters, what they wanted to do and what direction to take them in, and also how to make it fun. I am very conscious of not scaring a child in any way, not doing anything that would give them nightmares. My monsters are a bit crazy and clumsy and get into all sorts of trouble but they don't eat children.

"Once I've finished the text it's entirely up to Ben how he illustrates it, but we work well together and seem to be on the same wavelength. I think Monstersaurus looks fabulous."

Illustrator Ben Cort enjoyed working on the Alien books because there are no rules about what aliens look like, he says. However, "In this book, the characters were more defined. Monstersaurus is half dinosaur, so needed to be scaley, and half monster, so he is hairy like a bear. I didn't want to make the monsters so cute that they didn't have any fright value, but the first Monstersaurus I created was not appealing enough, I had to soften his face.

"I did a lot of computer work for this book, creating line drawings of the monsters and then layering in the colours, so it's high in collage. It worked well because there are lots of smoke and transparent effects in the story, some of which were quite tricky. It took me two weeks to do one spread where the boy is experimenting with making a monster. My personal favourite is the spread where the Monstersaurus appears for the first time."