Thursday 7 November 2019

Chapter Books- Some award-winners

In my epic search to find chapter books that will engage my little ones and encourage them to make the (gentle) leap from picture books to chapter books, I have explored classic reads (mainly Dahl), nostalgic reads, cross-over series and celebrity authors. The results have been hugely varied, as expected. But overall, other distractions are still winning out over the chance to be read to.
So I thought I'd turn my attention to books in this age-group that have been long-listed, short-listed or have won book awards in the hope that the accolade will guarantee an engaging and entertaining read. And I hit gold on my first attempt!
Cue, Charlie Changes Into a Chicken by Sam Copeland and illustrated by Sarah Horne.

Published by: Puffin
Awards: Charlie Changes Into a Chicken has been long-listed in the Blue Peter Book Awards 2020.

This book is Sam Copeland's debut. I'm at the stage now where I try and read the book myself before I share it with the kids (what a hardship!!) so I can try and hit on a winner. 
This book is a winner. 
Charlie has plenty to worry about. His older brother, Smoothmove, is ill in hospital and awaiting a 'big scan'. When Charlie starts randomly changing into animals (think broader than a chicken) he doesn't understand what's happening - but it's highly inconvenient. Being unable to control this new power leads to all sorts of embarrassing -and hilarious- situations both in and out of school. Desperate to understand why this is happening to him, Charlie calls on his three best friends for help. Together they come up with rather unusual experiments to pinpoint the reason why Charlie changes and what he can do about it when he does. 
This book is tongue-in-cheek and hilarious from the start. Who wouldn't be intrigued by a character who changes into a spider by the end of page three? But if at first it all seems a bit random to you then stick with it because, once the story arc kicks in, you'll discover that there is a very real and heart-warming reason for why Charlie changes. This is a book that sensitively and effectively explores the issue of anxiety and stress within children and highlights how deeply they can be affected by life's worries. However, if that means you're expecting tears, forget it! In this book humour rules from start to finish!
For a start, there are two chapter 1's, an interlude and an 'interesting' question and answer session at the end. Oh, and look out for that chicken!
Copeland's voice is both distinctive and brilliant. Expect a lot of toilet humour wrapped up in the plot, in particular a pooing rhino and a snake slithering in the toilet pipes, but there's equally as many non-toilet laugh-out-loud moments too! 
I wasn't quite sure where this book was headed when I first started it, but it got stronger and stronger as it progressed. I knew instantly my kids would love it and they do. But it's the underlying heart-strings message that gives this story it's power. 
Kids not interested? Are they too old for it? Do you have no kids? - read it anyway!

Next in the series: Charlie Turns into a T-Rex.

Charlie Morphs into a Mammoth is available to pre-order and will be released on 6/2/2020

At the time of writing this blog, Charlie Changes into a Chicken is available on Amazon Kindle for 99p.

This blog takes no credit for images or information provided. Follow the link to Goodreads for further reviews and links to retailers. All opinions are my own.

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