Charlie turns into a T-Rex by Sam Copeland
Penguin Random House, 2019. ISBN: 9780241346228. 280p. pbk.
The much anticipated sequel to Charlie changes into a chicken is finally in bookshops. Charlie is sorely tested in Charlie turns into a T-Rex, but gradually team work pays off with Flora, and to some extent Moshin and Wogon too, assisting Charlie McGuffin to master his special ability. As they understand more about the phenomenon, they harness it as a weapon to help Charlie's dad save his job. The last thing Charlie wants to do is sell his house, move across town to live with Aunt Brenda (a peg- legged crazy cat lady) and worst of all - change schools and lose the special connection with his good friends. Solving this problem isn't easy when Charlie's nemesis, Dylan, is intent on unmasking Charlie despite Charlie's affinity with different helpful species like Jean Claude, the pigeon.
The first thing that hits you about Charlie changes into a T-Rex is Sam Copeland's conspiratorial writing style, which rapidly draws you in. While agreeing that there's a touch of Roald Dahl about his work, Copeland's writing is unique and cleverly-crafted. Firstly, the humour targets both children and adults, so while there is plenty of toilet humour, there is also a pop culture element that will make adults smile. This universal appeal reinforces that kids love to hear adults laugh just as much as we love to hear them laugh. An early highlight comes when Charlie discovers that his Cat, Chairman Meow, has a whole other life, in which he believes he has supreme power over his universe.
While this sequel is another split-your-sides-laughing kind of story, the humour has effectively been used as a mechanism for addressing childhood anxiety with the lightest of touches: a tricky issue to deal with at the best of times. Parents and educators all know that children can talk non-stop about a whole range of bizarre and wonderful things. However, they are not always so forthcoming about issues that worry them, and while this book isn't an authoritative source, it gently introduces the benefits of mindfulness and happiness and, of course, the power of friendship. Find out more about this talented author.