Sunday 19 January 2020

Charlie Morphs into a Mammoth

Charlie Morphs into a Mammoth by Sam Copeland, illustrated by Sarah Horne (Penguin Books) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN 9780241346235

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

The back-cover blurb promises a lot for a potential reader with comments such as ‘laugh-a-minute’, ‘modern masterpiece’ and ‘ideal for fans of David Wallaims and Roald Dahl’. This is the third in the series about super-hero Charlie McGuffin who has gained control over his ability to change himself into animals, and this time it’s a mammoth. In the previous two books, Charlie changes into a T-Rex and a chicken. However, at the start of this book is a series of letters from ‘readers’ (including D Trump), berating Charlie for not delivering what he promised. Then there’s a letter from the publisher promising that he will most certainly deliver in this book.

Charlie Morphs into a Mammoth is delivered in third person, but the narrator is opinionated and snipes at the ‘dear reader’, referring to the ‘dreadful crowd who read the last two books’ but then he turns on the readers of this latest book, saying ‘you’re every bit as dreadful as the readers of the last book.’ There’s also, on the first page of the book, a form for the reader to fill in which asks a series of questions such as ‘Which of your parents farts the most?’ and ‘Would you rather have two noses or three bums?’ Thus, by the time Charlie sets off on a school excursion to the zoo, the reader knows they are in for an amusing time. It seems there is something to be said about the author Copeland being compared to the two superheroes of books for kids.

Things at home are not happy for Charlie and now he has control over his body at least. ‘(He) recognised the feeling of electricity rippling through his body almost immediately. He was changing and changing fast.’ He doesn’t immediately turn into a mammoth but a fly! Of course, he is attracted to a poo…a poo and vomit smoothie. On many of the pages there are footnotes, and one this page it reads, ‘I warned you it was disgusting. But that’s what flies do, I’m afraid.’ (The fly walks in, and feeds on the smoothie).

The action of this book is fast-paced and relentless with non-stop childish humour. It is packed with amusing black and white illustrations and is sure to have big appeal to any child – usually a boy – who dislikes reading. Ideal for readers 9+ years.

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