D.I.Y. Harry Potter accessory on a budget: make your own Monster Book of Monsters (with optional interactivity)

I love when I get a chance to mix books with coding. Particularly using free software like Scratch or low-cost technology like Makey Makey. I would love to share more of this and it’s a passion that I fit into my spare time around work and volunteering. I try to use these little maker projects in the Code Club I volunteer in so that kids can enjoy hacking them too!

This post explains how I made a DIY version of the The Monster Book of Monsters by Edwardus Lima on a budget. This furry textbook first features in J K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Affordable Hogwarts school study supplies

As we know, at the start of the year, students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry stock up on school supplies from shops in Diagon Alley. I’m willing to speculate that the required magical textbooks costs as much as Muggle textbooks! This also doesn’t include working your way through Hermione Granger’s recommended reading list.

What is a young budget-concious student wizard to do?

Well, why not save your precious wizarding galleons to spend on sweets at Honeydukes or tankards of Butterbeer in The Three Broomsticks?

Save money on textbooks by transforming any old hardcover book into a do-it-yourself version of the essential textbook for Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures third year class, The Monster Book of Monsters.

I converted an 1800’s (already damaged) Latin book into my very own monstrosity. I used some air drying clay and a $2 blanket I bought from a charity shop.

My creation wasn’t perfect. My teeth sculpting skills are a bit naff. I took this book out to Harry Potter events, mostly embarrassed by it. To my amazement, lots of people wanted to pat, stroke and cuddle it. Many loved that it was a real book. Perhaps I do have a career in magi-orthodontics ahead!

But, something was missing. In the Harry Potter stories and films, The Monster Book of Monsters is an untamed beast of a book. It constantly attacks anyone who comes near. I soon began to imagine how wonderful it would be if my book could made a sound in response to Muggle touch.

An effective guardian for your beloved Harry Potter editions, but inanimate!

A book that bites the hand that reads it.

“Hasn’ — hasn’ anyone bin able ter open their books?” said Hagrid, looking crestfallen.
The class all shook their heads.
“Yeh’ve got ter stroke ‘em,” said Hagrid, as though this was the most obvious thing in the world. “Look —”
He took Hermione’s copy and ripped off the Spellotape that bound it. The book tried to bite, but Hagrid ran a giant forefinger down its spine, and the book shivered, and then fell open and lay quiet in his hand.
“Oh, how silly we’ve all been!” Malfoy sneered. “We should have stroked them! Why didn’t we guess!”
“I — I thought they were funny,” Hagrid said uncertainly to Hermione.
“Oh, tremendously funny!” said Malfoy. “Really witty, giving us books that try and rip our hands off!

Chapter 14 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Hooking the book up to Makey Makey and Scratch so that anyone could make their own monsterous sound effects play when the book was stroked, was the next evolution for this old book.

Adding a hidden pressure switch inside, attached to Makey Makey and a laptop or computer running Scratch will play sounds when anyone gently pats your Monster Book of Monsters.

Background about the project

Read more about the background of the project here in my AACE Review article: Of Monsters and Tech: Making an interactive book with Scratch and Makey Makey.

Video of the interactive Monster Book of Monsters

This video shares the lovely monster sounds that the kids, teachers and librarians created, when I took my Monster Book of Monsters into the Code Clubs I volunteer in. (turn sound on)

Makey Makey Labz Guide

To see the project broken down into steps, see the Makey Makey Labz guide I put together here: Interactive Monster Book: Makey Makey and Scratch.

There are so many ways that this project could be extended and bettered!

Let your imagination go wild! Oh, and a final word of warning…

The Monster Book of Monsters can behave very unpredictably….

The Wild Librarian
A distressing snapshot of The Wild Librarian
being nibbled by her wild creation.
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