What’s it all about?:
Ben is bored beyond belief after he is made to stay at his grandma’s house. All she wants to do is to play Scrabble, and eat cabbage soup. But there are two things Ben doesn’t know about his grandma: she was once an international jewel thief and she has been plotting to steal the crown jewels. Now she needs Ben’s help.
What did I think?:
I began this book a bit cynical, I’m ashamed to say as I think that David Walliams does a brilliant job as a comedian but a children’s book author? I wasn’t sure. Well he proved me wrong. This is a fantastic and touching tale of a young boy’s relationship with his grandmother with everything included that children will just love (including the obligatory fart jokes, of course). There are also some beautiful illustrations by Tony Ross that were the icing on the cake for a story that is destined to become a classic.
Our main character is a young boy called Ben who doesn’t have the easiest relationship with his parents. They are die-hard fans of a show called Strictly Stars Dancing and as a result, are determined that their son should grow up to be a professional dancer rather than a plumber which is his real dream. They are often terribly busy on Friday nights, especially when they get the chance to go to a filming of the show so leave Ben with his grandmother, a visit which Ben comes to dread. For a start, all Ben’s grandma seems to be interested in is a game of Scrabble and then there is the cabbage. Cabbage soup, cabbage for dessert in the form of a cake, cabbage, cabbage everywhere! She even smells of cabbage and because she eats a lot of cabbage, her bottom seems to have a life and a voice of its own!
Ben is miserable and tells his parents exactly how he feels about poor old Granny, no holds barred. Then the next time he visits, Granny tells him an old and amazing secret…. when she was younger she was a prolific jewel thief, stealing rare and precious diamonds all over the world that once got her shot at and made her the world’s most wanted criminal. Ben is terribly excited about this new “gangsta granny,” that he has discovered and persuades her that she should try again to steal the Crown Jewels, something she never managed to do, with his help of course! Due to his interest in plumbing he has discovered a series of underground pipes below the Tower of London that they could swim through in order to get into the Tower. Granny agrees and the two begin formulating their plan, also forming a new, stronger relationship. However, there is a dancing competition the same night at the Town Hall and Ben might have told a little fib to his parents in that he wanted to be a dancer (to their delight, much better than that awful plumbing!). Will the two manage to carry out their plan? Will Ben have to dance at the Town Hall in a hideous “Love Bomb,” costume made by his Mum? Read it and find out!
As I mentioned at the start, David Walliams really surprised me with this book. I always knew it was going to be funny and there were some great moments of humour (like Granny’s naked yoga – yikes!) but I definitely wasn’t prepared for how much this book was going to touch me. It’s not just about Granny’s farty bottom or how insane Ben is going to look if he ever wears any of his Mum’s er…creative costumes? It’s about relationships, both parental and grand-parental and really makes you appreciate those older people in our lives or those that have sadly left us. I think it would be a lovely book to read in a classroom setting and may help younger children talk about things they are struggling with as well as making them laugh. I think Chrissi and I have now decided we are one hundred percent putting David Walliams on the Kid-Lit list for next year – sorry David, for ever doubting you!
For Chrissi’s fab review, please see her blog HERE.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):