The  Laugh Out Loud Book Awards  is a celebration of the very  best and funniest books for children , voted for by children themselves!  ...

Laugh Out Loud Interview with Matt Carr: Lollies 2020

Tuesday, November 12, 2019 BookBairn 3 Comments

The Laugh Out Loud Book Awards is a celebration of the very best and funniest books for children, voted for by children themselves! Celebrating children's books that make us laugh out loud are the Laugh Out Loud (Lollies) Awards, created by Scholastic, and I'm delighted to take part in the blog tour again this year! (You can find last our choice from last year here.)

This year when I looked at the picture book shortlist (see the full shortlist at the bottom of this post), there was only one of the four books that we actually owned but I knew it would be my favourite, and still after borrowing the others from the library and doing full due diligent research! In fact, it's one of our most worn-out looking books from over-reading and was one of the first books that The Wee Page Turner seemed particularly drawn to by choosing it off his bookshelves over and over again, despite being too little to sit through the story it understand all the clever humour in the storytelling!

BookBairn and The Wee Page Turner and I all love Spyder by Matt Carr for different reasons! BookBairn loves it because it is a hilarious spy thriller for little readers starring 008 the Spyder whose mission is to keep the evil bluebottle fly from landing on the birthday cake. And it's no wonder that she loves the story with twists and turns it keeps you on tenterhooks - what will happen to the birthday cake? Will Spyder succeed or will the villainous bluebottle prevail? It's her first experience of a thriller. But it's also so funny - Spyder is so tiny she comes a-cropper several times in the story and faces perilous dangers such as dad's foot and the bath drain which to BookBairn is just downright hilarious!

The Wee Page Turner loves spotting Spyder and the family dog and obviously enjoys the high contrast bright colour palette. He particularly enjoys it when Spyder slides down the banister shouting "I love my job" and we all shout "whheeeeeee" along with her. 

And I adore the puns that are scattered throughout which are their to give adults a wry smile as they read. So clever of the author to create a book which appeals on so many levels. And not only that but I love it because it stars a female spider (and let's face it in the past any sort of 'spy' character would have only been a male) who takes the mission at hand and despite several potential mishaps along the way, still succeeds to "mission accomplished".

I'm delighted to welcome author and illustrator, Matt Carr, to our blog today as part of our stop on Lollies Blog Tour. Matt has kindly taken the time to answer some our questions about how he made the book and where is ideas came from.

Where do you start when creating your books? Do you start with your sketchpad or does the story appear in your mind first?
Hello Book Bairn! Good question! Usually my ideas come when I am running (very slowly) in the mornings… Because I work from home its a nice way to get out of the house and I have a good old think as I’m plodding along. Its a lovely feeling when something pops into your head and then I can’t wait to get back and get it on paper. Having said that sometimes I’ll see something that gives me an idea (e.g. last year I was on a train and a bloke got on holding a plank of wood and that gave me an idea for a book about a pirate pig who’s best mate is a plank! By the time I’d got home I’d sorted the whole story. SPYDER was different though as she started life as a sidekick for another one of my characters ANONYMOUSE (a spy mouse!) but my publishers thongs SPYDER was a really strong character and asked me to write a story for her… so that was a different writing experience altogether! I soon found out that there was a lot of fun to be had with her character though!

You often pick some of the, shall we say, 'lesser-loved' creatures to star in your books - a spider, a bat - is this a deliberate choice? Of course spider lends itself beautifully to the pun you have created with the title!
My very first book was called RUSSELL THE SCARED CROW which I self published. I’ve always liked Crows and think they get a bad press as they are very intelligent. Russ was a great character so I started thinking about other animals to focus on… I think its lovely that animals who aren’t universally loved or are forgotten can be put in the spotlight and made heroes and hopefully help kids to see beyond the bad press they get…BATS, SPIDERS and MOLES have amazing skills that hopefully come across in the books…
I have though done loads of other ideas with animals which just haven’t come out or got through. My next book is about a RHINO called Ron who wants to be a unicorn! It has been strange to draw a huge animal instead of a tiny one!

Your books often feature little word-plays and puns which appeal to the adult reading the story. (My favourite is "danger is a-foot" right as Spyder almost gets squashed by dad's sock). Do you think about the adults as you are writing?
YES!!! That is definitely one of the things I’m trying to do. Over the years I’ve read loads of books to my kids and they usually want to hear the same one night after night. I love ones that have little jokes that work for adults too…  Like when Shrek came out and it had brilliant jokes that worked for everyone watching.

I’ve always loved comedy and puns since I was little so it was a no brainer for me to put my humour into my books. 

Spyder was one of The Wee Page Turner's first favourite books (when he was around 18months and was able to choose for himself what to read we read Spyder over and over again) and I think this is probably due to the crisp and bright graphic style of the illustrations. Did you find your skills experience as a graphic designer leant into you illustrations or was it like learning a whole new craft?
I’ve always loved big bright clean graphics and bold type which definitely influenced my books. In my job I’m always having to do different styles of illustration and I’ve never had a ‘style’ (or any style according to my kids!) plus I never really like anything I draw so it was quite difficult to come up with my own style… in the end I just drew stuff and realised that I couldn’t fake a style, I just had to go with what I could do! Then it was just a case of making it look as good as poss and then combining the graphic look which hopefully works and is a bit different from everyone else… I do still not see myself as a proper author illustrator though and when I see great proper illustrators like Jonny Duddle, Rob Biddulph or Joe Todd Stanton I get a bit jealous!

Which of Spyder's stunts was your favourite to bring to life?
I do like the 'mission impossible' style drop from the loft. I can imagine SPYDER humming the famous theme tune as she does it!

And finally what do you do when you see a spider in the house? Do you trap it under a glass too?

Yes! I love spiders!

What a fascinating insight into the process of developing the story! Thanks so much Matt for taking the time to share some of your process! 

The Lollies are awarded in three categories: picture books, books for 6-8 year olds and books for 9-13 year olds. The shortlisted books are as follows:

Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book
Babies First Bank Heist by Jim Whalley & Stephen Collins
Spyder by Matt Carr
Ten Fat Sausages by Michelle Robinson & Tor Freeman
You're Called What?! by Kes Grey & Nikki Dyson

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8 Year Olds
Bad Nana: Older Not Wiser by Sophy Henn
The Legend of Kevin by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre
The Nothing to See Here Hotel by Steven Butler & Steven Lenton
The World's Worst Children 3 by David Wallians & Tony Ross

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13 Year Olds
Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes by Greg James, Chris Smith & Erica Salcedo
I Bet I Can Make You Laugh by Joshua Seigal & Tim Wesson
I Swapped My Brother on the Internet by Jo Simmons & Nathan Reed
Planet Stan by Elaine Wickson & Chris Judge

The winning book in each category will be decided solely by children’s votes, with schools and parents encouraged to help kids get involved and vote via the Lollies website,, or using the PopJam app and you can find lots of great teaching resources on there for each of the books shortlisted. Get your votes in and the winning books will be announced at an awards ceremony in January 2020.

To read the other blog posts in the tour, check out the banner on the right or below to find out when and where to be (and I'll also be sharing on our Twitter). What gets your vote for the funniest book of the year? We'd love to hear your favourites! But also remember to pop over to to vote and you can also find all the books at hugely discounted prices.

Thanks for reading,
Kim and the bairns x

Disclaimer: We were asked to join the Lollies Blog Tour and I immediately put my support behind Spyder by Matt Carr  as it's a book we already have and love. We acquired our copy from my lovely friend BookLoverJo who sent it because she knew we would love it!  Please read our Review Policy  if you want to know more. 


  1. I think Spyder is a great book. It made me laugh and BookBairn and the Wee Page Turner loved it.

  2. I'm not a fan of spiders, but this sounds like such a fun book. I love kid's books that add a little humour for the adults too. Great review.

  3. This looks like a fab book that my boys would love! #