Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Humor, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Grandpa’s Great Escape is brilliantly funny and touching

grandpaGrandpa’s Great Escape, by David Walliams/Illustrated by Tony Ross, (Feb. 2017, HarperCollins), $16.99, ISBN: 9780062560896

Recommended for ages 8-12

I’ve been a David Walliams fan since the decidedly un-kid-friendly UK show, Little Britain; his children’s books have just made me love him that much more. He and illustrator Tony Ross are this generation’s Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake; bringing hilariously dry British humor with a touch of true affection to American audiences. Demon Dentist introduced readers to Alfie, a kid taking care of his father while fighting a dentist from hell. In Grandpa’s Great Escape, we head back to 1983 to meet Jack and his grandpa, a World War II flying ace who shares his stories with Jack. Grandpa is Jack’s absolute favorite person in the world, so when Grandpa starts forgetting things, Jack becomes the only person who knows how to communicate with him: by addressing the Wing Commander on his own battlefield. But Grandpa starts wandering, and Jack’s parents make the worst possible choice ever: to send Grandpa to Twilight Towers, a questionable old-age home run by the very questionable Matron Swine. It’s up to Jack to save Grandpa!

Grandpa’s Great Escape is laugh-out loud hilarious while addressing the stress of watching a grandparent grow older. Where people around him see Grandpa as a nuisance, a danger to himself and others, or both, Jack sees his World War II hero; his playmate; his best friend. He’ll never give up on Grandpa, and Grandpa will never give up on Jack. Jack draws on the life lessons Grandpa taught him to save his best friend: and take him on one last mission.

A must-add to any collection, and a great book to have on hand for discussions about grandparents and aging. Take a look at David Walliams’ website for more about his books, and special features – like newsagent Raj’s shop!

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Humor, Middle Grade, Middle School, Tween Reads

David Walliams’ DEMON DENTIST is taking appointments!

demon dentistDemon Dentist, by David Walliams (March 2016, HarperCollins), $16.99, ISBN: 9780062417046

Recommended for ages 8-12

Weird things are happening in Alfie’s town, and they seem to have started when the freaky new dentist, Ms. Root – who insists everyone call her “Mummy” –¬†shows up. Kids are getting terrible things under their pillow – eyeballs, bugs, slugs, and more! – instead of a shiny coin from the tooth fairy. Alfie’s own teeth need some serious dental work, but there’s no way he’s going to be Mummy’s next victim – but his social worker, Winnie, has other ideas. Can Alfie and his friend Gabz figure out Ms. Root’s secrets? Or will they find themselves in the demon dentist’s chair?

I’ve been a fan of David Walliams since the decidedly un-child-friendly (but HILARIOUS) show Little Britain, where he and comedian Matt Lucas created insanely funny sketches and characters. He’s become a prolific children’s author in the UK, but I’ve never had the chance until now to read any of his work. Demon Dentist, I believe, is his first US release, and I am thrilled – I already ordered a copy for my library.

Walliams’ work has a distinct Roald Dahl influence: Alfie’s poor surroundings and sickly father in particular remind me of Charlie Bucket’s family; but like Charlie, he doesn’t let it get to him. He takes care of his dad; it’s Alfie and his dad against the world. The two have more than a deep love for one another; they’re devoted to each other. Alfie’s dad spins tales of imagination that take them both on journeys and adventures far and wide, and although, as Alfie gets older, he’d rather be playing video games, he continues to go on these journeys with his dad because he loves him and knows what it means to his father. Winnie, the social worker tasked with checking in on Alfie and his dad, is brash, loud, and funny, with a heart of gold and the best of intentions. Doctor Root is a brilliant, 3-D villain that leaps off the page and hides under your bed.

To add to the Dahl-esque feel, we have Quentin Blake’s wonderful black and white illustrations. I love his artwork for so many reasons, not the least being the memories of reading Mr. Dahl’s books as a kid, curled up in my little reading corner. Blake’s illustrations are wickedly funny here, giving more life to Walliams’ story.

There are larger than life personalities in here, laugh out loud humor, made-up words galore (clearly asterisked for you!), and a bittersweet, gorgeous story about family that will leave you cheering as you wipe a tear away from your eye. My next move: download the rest of Walliams’ novels for my Nook.