Rhinocorn Rules!

Rhinocorn Rules!
Matt Carr
Egmont

Matt Carr’s Ron is a rhinocerus after my own heart – a fun and art loving, rule subverter, full of ideas of the divergent kind.

Being grumpy, a loner and ready to charge should anything approach is not for him. Instead Ron is at heart a fun-loving, art and music enthusiast, brimming over with creativity and joy. Moreover he wants to share his joyful ideas with the other animals but none of the rule-abiding creatures is interested.

Life for Ron is pretty mundane until one sweltering afternoon at the waterhole he catches sight of his dull reflection in the water. Thinking that if only he could show himself as he really is then friendship would follow, an idea strikes him and Elmer the patchwork elephant style, Ron sets to work with his creativity …

Once he’s dried off he is transformed into a true life work of art and as you might expect, he now feels A-MA-ZING!

Time to get himself noticed and so he does: first he impresses the meerkats and before long lots of animals are eager to have fun and be friends with the transformed Ron. Happiness at last.

Happiness however is not what his fellow rhinos feel; oh dear no. Ron is a total embarrassment, so they tell him.

Fortunately though, the meerkats stand up for their new friend and point out something that hadn’t occurred to the rhinos. Realisation dawns and then there’s only one thing to do … and Ron does it in one deft move of his forelimbs.

I wonder what new rules he created in place of old ones. What three would you have chosen?

Through his droll illustrations and heartfelt words Matt has created a thoroughly inspiriting story. The message is loud and clear: be true to yourself, be proud of who you are; and if that means finding a way round, over or under the rules then so be it, and good on you.

Love the cleverly worded title and the final ‘Did you know?’ page.

Rocketmole

Rocketmole
Matt Carr
Scholastic

Armstrong the star-nosed mole finds his subterranean life boring. But Armstrong is an inventive fellow with a thirst for adventure who likes to keep his sights fixed skywards; and to this end (or rather beginning) he builds himself a telescope and some special specs.

When he announces to his pals that he’s going to visit the moon they’re totally discouraging. Danger is no deterrent to Armstrong though and after a rather bumpy start, our daring mole has built himself an enormous rocket that impresses even the naysayers when they pop their heads up to watch the countdown.

Following an arduous journey with trials and tribulations including tea drinking and loo-going, our space-creature makes his lunar landing, taking ‘one giant leap for a mole!’

The very first lunar-visiting mole is basking in starlit glory.

His exaltation though, is short-lived: the moon is, let’s say, boring; it lacks atmosphere.

Dwarfed by the moon’s size, Armstrong feels totally insignificant.

As he sits trying in vain to eat a spot of lunch, he looks earthwards and feels homesick.

There’s just one way to go – back home.

And who should be waiting for him but a welcoming party of his moley pals who have summoned up sufficient courage to come above ground and pay tribute to the inspiring Armstrong.

Over cake and cups of fizz (or maybe juice) their hero announces that he now wants to see the world, but not alone. With newfound daring, his fellow moles agree to accompany him, precipitating a light bulb moment in Armstrong.

Let operation world tour commence …

Out of this world crazy, the entire book is replete with groan-worthy humour though the final tour spread really beats the rest for bonkersness.

Using his characteristic primary colours plus black and white, (don’t miss the front endpapers) Matt’s scenes are a wonderful amalgam of pictures and text, full of puns and spaced-out soppiness that this particular reviewer was absolutely swept away by.

Spyder

Spyder
Matt Carr
Scholastic Children’s Books

Meet Spyder, reputedly the world’s smallest secret agent and penthouse flat resident at No. 7 Fleming Road wherein a special birthday is about to be celebrated.

Suddenly, as the agent has just settled down for a spot of reading she receives an urgent call from HQ.

Instantly, or almost so – it takes a little time to get those feet readjusted to work mode, and then to pack her spy-kit – she’s off on a mission to save Tom’s birthday cake from a disastrous attack by a dastardly buzzing insect going under the code name of Bluebottle.

It’s a hazardous chase with some pretty perilous moments. Not least this one …

There follow, clever moves on the part of Bluebottle, some wily thinking from Spyder and the occasional moment of fun for the agent;

but will it be enough to save the day and the cake?

And who actually gets the last laugh?

All this and more in a totally daft tale that’s a wonderful follow up to Matt’s debut Superbat.

There are some groan worthy puns, plenty of action of the comical kind, some splendidly silly speech bubbles, a show-stopping colour palette and endpapers packed with spy stuff. Another cracking read aloud from Carr who even adds a strategically placed word (or several) on the back cover warning about the folly of trying any of Spyder’s stunts – they’re for trained professionals only.

Superbat / A Good Day for a Hat

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Superbat
Matt Carr
Scholastic Children’s Books
There’s a new superhero on the block – or should that be a would-be one? Meet Pat the bat. Sleepless and bored with inverted hanging, one day, he longs to be special like those superheroes in his comics. Suddenly ‘POW!’ Light bulb moment; straightway it’s out with Mum’s sewing machine and he sets to work …

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Hours later, Pat is ready to hit the high spots, but persuading his fellow bats of his super powers is going to take some doing. After all, super-hearing, flying and echolocation don’t count: all bats have those capacities; and he certainly can’t lift cars or shoot laserbeams from his eyes.

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Pat is disheartened. “I’m just a normal bat in a silly outfit,” he says holding back his tears. Is he though? Suddenly, his super ears pick up a distant cry …

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Could this be his big chance?
Matt Carr’s debut picture book is slightly crazy –or rather, batty – and none the worse for that. I suspect Pat the Bat, with his stitched-on-star suit, will win the hearts of young human would-be superheroes. The yesteryear colour palette is perfect for portraying his antics be they by day or by night.

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A Good Day for a Hat
T. Nat Fuller and Rob Hodgson
Abrams Appleseed
Donning a smart titfa, Mr Brown is ready to sally forth and he has a destination in mind. Try as he might though, he just can’t get beyond his own front path. First it’s the weather, then all kinds of unexpected, unlikely events unfold: a band marches by, magical bunnies are leaping all over his lawn,

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a rodeo gallops along; there’s even a huge fire-breathing dragon …

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and that is followed by a pirate ship. But, with no time for further dallying Mr Brown steps out again and this time, he’s well prepared.

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Will he ever make it to Miss Plum’s house though? And what is the purpose of his visit?
Oodles of fun, with clever use of repetition, making its patterned text easy to read, and a super surprise ending, this jolly picture book is a treat for sharing and individual reading.
Early years teachers, think of all the hatty fun you could have with this playful book.