Charlie morphs into a mammoth by Sam Copeland

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Illus. by Sarah Horne. Penguin Books, 2020. ISBN: 9780241346235. 320pp.
(Ages 8-12). Highly recommended. Charlie McGuffin has a unique ability to change into animals and he uses this ability to help his friends and solve problems, just like a real super-hero. In this third very funny book of the series he is beginning to be able to control which animal he changes into. Charlie can metamorphize just by thinking of something sad or upsetting and he uses the fact that his mum and dad seem to be on the verge of separating as the tool to change in this book.
Having faced a very sick brother, a schoolyard bully and nearly losing the family home in the previous books Charlie is faced with his parent's constant arguments and some mysterious animal disappearances around him in this story. His friends are also are finding it increasingly difficult to keep his special ability a secret and when it starts to appear as if he himself is behind the petnappings he and his friends band together to find out what is really going on.
Sam Copeland engages the reader with a great story but also with some disruptions at various points in the book, such as letters from readers of his previous books at the beginning, disagreements with his illustrator halfway through and conflicts with the publisher about some content. The fact that the titles of his books have little to do with the story is a source of funny exchanges with the publisher at various times throughout the story. Small footnotes about the animals Charlie changes into are also a great addition to the book and could be used by teachers to explore the use of them as a tool in writing.
Children will love the fact that sometimes Charlie becomes a creature that puts him into some very yucky places especially when he turns into a Nematode worm and is eaten by his enemy Dylan. His journey through Dylan's body is an entertaining couple of chapters indeed! An entertaining read. Themes: Family relationships, Shapeshifters/Metamorphosis, Friendship.
Gabrielle Anderson