Matt Carr

Rocket Mole

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Armstrong the star-nosed mole is fed up of living underground. When he decides to go to the moon, his friends, although puzzled, are impressed by his actions as he builds a rocket and launches off into space. However, Armstrong quickly realises that there is much about the life he has left behind which he misses. When he returns, can he find a way to combine his desire for adventure and exploration with the companionship of his friends?

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Perfectly timed for the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, ‘Rocketmole’ is a wonderful story about dreaming big, pursuing ambitions and appreciating friendship! As usual with Matt’s books, there are plenty of jokes to be found in the story- both in the text and in the illustrations. Some of these are perfect for little ones and some offering the more mature amongst us a smile (gravi-tea, for example) and the chance to share the joke. Matt’s illustrative style is as appealing as ever with bold, block colours and his cartoon-style layouts full of details to enjoy.

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With its powerful message about following your dreams and achieving your goals, ‘Rocketmole’ is also a story about friendship and valuing what you have. Only when on the moon, gazing back at the world he has left does Armstrong realise what he has left behind.

This is such a lovely story, full of potential for using with a class in many ways, starting with as an introduction to the first moon landing. Fact files about the moon and star-nosed moles at the end of the book also offer a starting point for further investigation and I would love to see children experimenting with different rockets to send Armstrong of to space in. I think that’s my next book group activity planned!

ROCKETMOLE Matt Carr

Scholastic ISBN: 978-1407187860

Matt won our Picture Book Category in 2017 with ‘Superbat’. You can read our review here.

You can read our review of ‘Spyder’ here.

NSTBA Past Winners- Picture Book Category

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It’s our 5th birthday this year and we couldn’t be more excited! Since 2015, we have read and reviewed so many wonderful books- and met so many lovely authors and illustrators. We started the awards to help teachers be more aware of some of the amazing books that are available and that teachers could- and perhaps should- be using in school. Everyone involved in the awards works in education and most of us are teachers, working full time in classes across the primary age range. This puts us in the perfect position for getting these books into the hands of children and for raising their profile with our colleagues.

As submissions for this year must have been received by April 14th, we thought it was a good time to have a look back at our winners in each category from the last four years. So today, we’re starting with the Picture Book Category.

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Our first ever winners in this category were Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton with their wonderful characters, Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam. This book was an instant hit with the team as Shifty and Sam are brilliant and the story is full of fun . There are now four picture books and four chapter books about them- each offering Tracey’s fabulous writing and Steven’s amazing illustrations. A winning team if ever there was one!

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Although Tracey and Steven were not able to attend the ceremony, they came and visited some of our schools shortly after and were a huge hit with staff and children alike! They are both the loveliest people and we have seen them many times since, always enjoying their events. You can read our review here

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In 2016, Michelle Robinson and David Roberts won with their brilliant book, ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting’. Another gem, this caught our eye as it offers something a bit different. We were delighted that Michelle was able to come to the awards- and that she brought her lovely family with her. Michelle is one of those people who always makes you smile- she is full of fun, warm and friendly and it’s always a pleasure to bump into her. You can read our review of ‘Bear Spotting’ here.

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The winner in 2017 was Matt Carr with ‘Superbat’. This book had been a huge success with children in events we had held in schools. Having a really strong message about what really makes each of us ‘super’ as well as ‘Batty Facts’, ‘Superbat’ is great to use with classes. The bold illustrations encourage children to draw their own pictures and create their own superheroes. We were delighted that Matt was able to join us for the awards. You can read our review here.

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Last year, the wonderful Sophy Henn won with ‘Almost Anything’, a wonderful story about George who lacks confidence in himself and is reluctant to try anything. Sadly, Sophy was very poorly on the day of the awards, but sent a lovely video message. Once she had recovered, she came to visit one of our schools and did four amazing sessions with children and parents. It was a fantastic day! It is always a pleasure to see Sophy at festivals as she is so engaging - and genuinely lovely! You can read our review here.

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Each of these books has been widely used in our schools and each has ideas for a book event and /or teaching notes to go with them which are available to our members. We have thousands of visits to the website each month and often receive feedback, thanking us for our suggestions.

Since the last awards, we have been searching for this year’s long list and are still hunting.When looking at a book, we are always asking ourselves how it could be used as well as thinking about its fun factor. If you have any suggestions or would like to make a submission, please get in touch. Details are available on our home page.

Next, we will revisit the Information Book Category winners!

NSTBA18: PICTURE BOOK CATEGORY LONG LIST REMINDER!

All 80 titles for the six categories of our long list have now been reviewed! Each and every one a fantastic book, highly recommended by JAB and the NSTAB team.

The short list will be announced on the 8th September. Votes from the panel are already coming in so here's a little reminder of the twenty fabulous books on the Picture Book Category Long List.

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After the Fall      Dan Santat (Andersen Press) 

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Almost Anything - Sophy Henn (Puffin)

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Cyril and Pat- Emily Gravett (Two Hoots)

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Fairy Tale Pets - Tracey Corderoy, illustrated by Jorge Martin (Little Tiger)

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What's Your Favourite Colour? - Eric Carle and Friends   (Walker)

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Goat's Coat - Tom Percival, illustrated by Christine Pym  (Bloomsbury)

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I'm Going to Eat This Ant- Chris Naylor-Ballesteros   (Bloomsbury)

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Izzy Gizmo  Pip Jones, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie  (Simon and Schuster)

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Little Red Reading Hood  Lucy Rowland, illustrated by Ben Mantle  (Macmillan)

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Lulu Gets a Cat Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw (Alanna Books)

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Mrs Noah's Pockets  Jackie Morris, illustrated by James Mayhew (Otter Barry Books)

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Nimesh the Adventurer  Ranjit Singh, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini  (Lantana)

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Something Fishy  Polly Dunbar  (Two Hoots)

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The Great Gran Plan  Eli Woollard, illustrated by Steven Lenton (Macmillan)

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Unplugged    Steve Antony (Hodder) 

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This Zoo is Not for You Ross Collins (Nosy Crow)

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The Word Collector  Peter H. Reynolds  (Orchard Books)

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Look Out, It's A Dragon!       Jonny Lambert (Little Tiger)

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The Last Chip    Duncan Beedie    (Templar Publishing)

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Spyder     Matt Car   (Scholastic)

All amazing! Which will make it to the short list?