Friday, 4 November 2011
I used to find David Walliams (and Little Britain too) plain annoying. But now I’m going to have to eat my words. Firstly because he did that amazing swim for charity along the murky River Thames and secondly because he’s fast becoming a writer to be reckoned with.
I adored Billionaire Boy, his third children’s book, which I picked as one of my Christmas reads last year. Sweetly dedicated to his supermodel wife Lara Stone, it’s the story of Joe Spud, the richest 12-year-old in the world. He’s got 500 pairs of Nike trainers, a grand-prix race track in his garden and a house that’s visible from outer space. In short, Joe has everything a boy could want – except, sniff, a friend.
Now Walliams’s new book, Gangsta Granny, is out – and even though I didn’t love it quite as much as Billionaire Boy it’s hugely entertaining. This one’s the story of 11-year-old Ben, who thinks his granny is the most boring person on earth. All she wants to do when he stays the night is play Scrabble and, even worse, she serves up disgusting cabbage soup, cabbage pie and cabbage mousse for his tea. When he tips one gigantic portion of soup into a pot plant and hurriedly tells her it was “yummy,” she's so pleased she immediately serves up a second bowlful.
In this funny, touching and at times sad story, Walliams cleverly reminds children that just because their grandparents might be old doesn’t mean they haven’t led exciting lives.
As he says: “Ben couldn’t imagine what Granny would have been like young. He had only known her as an old lady. He even imagined she had been born an old lady. That years ago when her mother had given birth and asked the midwife if it was a boy or a girl, the midwife might have replied, ‘It’s an old lady!’”
But even though Ben’s granny has white hair, false teeth and used tissues tucked up her sleeve, it turns out that she has a deep, dark secret he would never have guessed in a million years – one that plunges him into an amazing adventure. You’ll have to read the book to find out what it is.
Brilliantly illustrated by Tony Ross, Gangsta Granny would make a great Christmas present for boys or girls aged nine to 12.
Gangsta Granny by David Walliams (HarperCollins, £12.99)