Tony Ross

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2019 – APRIL READ – Demon Dentist by David Walliams

Published May 6, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Darkness had come to the town. Strange things were happening in the dead of night. Children would put a tooth under their pillow for the tooth fairy, but in the morning they would wake up to find… a dead slug; a live spider; hundreds of earwigs creeping and crawling beneath their pillow.

Evil was at work. But who or what was behind it…?

What did I think?:

First of all, apologies (especially to my sister!) for getting this post out so late. Chrissi and I usually try to get our kid-lit posts out at the end of the month but this past week, I’ve been feeling a little under the weather and have only got round to doing it now. It’s always a pleasure to pick up a David Walliams book and even though I only discovered him a few years ago and was slightly sceptical, I can really see why he’s so beloved, particularly amongst children. You always know what you’re getting when you pick up one of his books. He has such a wonderful sense of humour, brilliant characterisation and an edge of reality that make his books such a joy to read.

David Walliams, author of Demon Dentist.

I say you always know what to expect when picking up a Walliams books but to be perfectly honest, Demon Dentist completely surprised me. I found it much darker than the author’s previous books with a villainous character that was nothing short of terrifying. However, I loved that he wasn’t afraid to explore some more difficult aspects of life. For example, our young protagonist Alfie’s father is chronically ill in a wheelchair and as a result, some parts of the narrative make for a very emotional and hard-hitting reading experience. Despite his father’s health issues, Alfie still has a wonderful relationship with him and it was heart-warming to read about their interactions. I can only applaud the author for choosing to write about a father-son relationship that is not conventional or expected so as to illustrate that not all families have the luxury of having parents who are healthy and well.

Alfie’s dad, beautifully illustrated by Tony Ross.

Image from: https://www.worldofdavidwalliams.com/book/demon-dentist/

In Demon Dentist, Alfie hasn’t been to the dentist for a long, long time after a bad experience when he was younger and his teeth are now rotten. Then when a new dentist, Ms Root comes to town and starts taking a rather obsessive interest in all the children’s teeth, Alfie begins to realise that something is seriously wrong and vows to get to the bottom of it. The villain of the piece who is of course, Ms Root as you may have guessed, is a fantastic villain in every sense of the word. She looks a bit strange, she definitely acts a bit strange and, as with all good baddies, she has an evil plot afoot that involves all the children of the town and their teeth.

As I mentioned earlier, things get quite frightening in Demon Dentist but it’s all done with Walliams’ trademark wit and style accompanied by the most glorious illustrations by Tony Ross. The action never lets up for a second and I whizzed through this book in less than a day very easily as I found it very difficult to put down. Just when I thought there may have been a resolution, there was another crescendo of tension and terror that our poor hero Alfie was subjected to! Eventually it does end – not particularly in a satisfying way I have to say, there is quite a bit of heart-break but it is also accompanied by hope for the future which as it turns out, is a far more realistic ending to a fantastical story.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

COMING UP IN MAY ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: The Enchanted Wood (The Faraway Tree #1) – Enid Blyton.

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2018 – APRIL READ – Ratburger by David Walliams

Published April 28, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The fifth screamingly funny novel from David Walliams, number one bestseller and fastest growing children’s author in the country. Hot on the heels of bestselling Gangsta Granny comes another hilarious, action-packed and touching novel – the story of a little girl called Zoe. Things are not looking good for Zoe. Her stepmother Sheila is so lazy she gets Zoe to pick her nose for her. The school bully Tina Trotts makes her life a misery – mainly by flobbing on her head. And now the evil Burt from Burt’s Burgers is after her pet rat! And guess what he wants to do with it? The clue is in the title…From the author that is being called ‘a new Roald Dahl’, Ratburger is not to be missed!

What did I think?:

Chrissi and I have made no secret of the fact that we love David Walliams’ writing for children and we’ve covered a few books now of his in our Kid-Lit challenge, so it was a bit of a no-brainer whether we would be putting another of his books up this year for discussion! Ratburger was another absolute joy to read and as before, the illustrations by Tony Ross were just the icing on the cake. In fact, if I consider all the David Walliams books we’ve read so far, I’m struggling to pick a favourite. This is a line up where each book is special and individual in its own right, each one has a host of glorious characters of heroes to adore and villains to despise, and Ratburger is another wonderful treat easily comparable to all the others.

In this story, our protagonist is a small girl called Zoe who lives with her beloved father and (evil) stepmother, Sheila who is addicted to prawn cocktail crisps and treats her step-daughter abominably. Zoe’s father has retreated into himself immensely since her mother died and soon after, he lost his dream job in the ice cream factory. Now he spends all of his days drowning his sorrows in the pub, reluctant to hunt too hard for another job. One of the only perks of Zoe’s life is her new pet rat, Armitage (DON’T ask how she gave him his name but if you do know, have a good giggle with me in the comments!). Like her pet before him, she starts to teach him tricks and dreams of the day when she can leave the bullies at school behind and start her own performing animals show.

However, this wouldn’t be a David Walliams book without a bit of trepidation, an unfortunate incident and a dastardly villain and our poor heroine happens to come across a very nasty individual who has grand plans for Armitage. Zoe then ends up in a very precarious situation where she must rescue her pet rat from a dangerous and hugely gruesome ending at the hands of a very odd man who makes very “special” burgers for a living.

This book is perfect for your average middle grade reader and like every other book I’ve read from this author, the humour is just right for that age group and perhaps even for a slightly immature adult like myself? Themes like death, bullying, being a bit different, chasing your dreams and family dynamics are introduced for the younger reader very delicately and at no time did I feel it was “too much,” or inappropriate. There are a couple of ruder bits but I promise you they’re incredibly tame and are more likely to make a child chuckle rather than scarring him/her for life! I’ve heard this described on Goodreads as more of a boy’s book but I one hundred percent dispute that statement. I can’t even imagine why the reviewer thought it was aimed more towards the male sex, I think both boys and girls would enjoy it equally. And hey, a brave female lead is ALWAYS appreciated here on this blog so thank you David Walliams for giving us Zoe, a determined, dreamy young girl who knows what she wants and will stop at nothing until she gets it despite the hardship she may suffer along the way.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT UP IN MAY ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: The Wide Window (A Series Of Unfortunate Events #3) – Lemony Snicket.

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2017 – MARCH READ – Awful Auntie by David Walliams

Published March 31, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A page-turning, rollicking romp of a read, sparkling with Walliams’ most eccentric characters yet and full of the humour and heart that all his readers love, Awful Auntie is simply unmissable!

From larger than life, tiddlywinks obsessed Awful Aunt Alberta to her pet owl, Wagner – this is an adventure with a difference. Aunt Alberta is on a mission to cheat the young Lady Stella Saxby out of her inheritance – Saxby Hall. But with mischievous and irrepressible Soot, the cockney ghost of a chimney sweep, alongside her Stella is determined to fight back… And sometimes a special friend, however different, is all you need to win through.

What did I think?:

Chrissi and I first put David Walliams on our Kid Lit list a couple of years ago when we read the amazing Gangsta Granny. We enjoyed it so much that we’ve continued to feature his books on including The Boy In The Dress last year. After now having had some experience with his writing, I was really looking forward to diving back into his wacky but wonderful mind accompanied with some brilliant illustrations by Tony Ross, who is remarkably like Quentin Blake. A lot of people compare David to Roald Dahl and I can definitely see why (it’s not just the Quentin Blake connection!). He is incredibly witty and has an amazing imagination for things that children of the target age group love to read and laugh about.

I may have started my other reviews of the author’s work by stating that the one I’m writing about is my favourite David Walliams book and I’m afraid here I go again! Awful Auntie is easily the best one I’ve read so far, I loved the plot, the characters and the jokes and found myself thoroughly charmed by the whole thing. Our main character is a little girl called Lady Stella Saxby, only surviving heir to Saxby Hall after her parents were killed in a horrific car accident. However, there is a relation of the family that her father specifically did not want to ever inherit Saxby Hall, his sister, Alberta. Alberta is not your regular kind and loving auntie I’m afraid. She’s mean, self-obsessed, a bit crazy and only devoted to one thing – her pet owl Wagner who assists her in her wicked deeds. She’s determined to find the deeds to Saxby Hall and force Stella to sign them over to her by any means necessary. Lucky Stella has the ghost of Saxby Hall, a chimney sweep called Soot on her side so that Aunt Alberta can be stopped before anything too terrible happens!

This story was just fantastic. Absolutely hilarious, I loved the character of Aunt Alberta and all her little quirks and villainous ways and I really enjoyed how Stella stood up to her, played tricks on her and remained brave and proud of her heritage despite having suffered the loss of her parents and been lied to and treated abominably by somebody who was supposed to be her close family. Once again, the illustrations were out of this world and really added to the magic and atmosphere of the story although David’s gift with words and humour did give them a major run for their money! I laughed out loud at many points and was constantly delighted by an exciting, fast-paced story that I know children would adore. Two words for you – Owl Urinal. Could they really be a thing? Aunt Alberta seems to think so!

Image from https://www.worldofdavidwalliams.com/book/awful-auntie/

For Chrissi’s fabulous post, please visit her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

COMING UP IN APRIL ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: A Snicker Of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2015 – JULY READ – Gangsta Granny by David Walliams

Published July 30, 2015 by bibliobeth

12727215

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):

four-stars_0

granny