I do love David Walliams and his phenomenally successful kids books. He published his first book, The Boy in the Dress, back in 2008, but I didn't get to read it until just over a year ago. It's quite astonishing for me to see that just in the past year or so I've already read four of his books. Mr Stink. Billionaire Boy. Ratburger.
David Walliams has published one book a year since he began, and it was the arrival in the stores of his latest, Awful Auntie, that prompted me to get Gangsta Granny off the shelf. I now see that Philip Ardagh in The Guardian has called Awful Auntie his "best book yet"- oh dear, I won't be able to leave that one for too long now.
My favourite thus far remains Billionaire Boy. Billionaire Boy was a story about a lonely, rich boy. Gangsta Granny is about another rather lonely boy. Eleven year old Ben is a slow reader and has been held back a year at school. He visits his Granny every Friday night for a sleepover. Dumped there by his parents each week so that they can go to Strictly Stars Dancing. "But Granny is soooo boring".
"I hate spending time with her," protested Ben. "Her TV doesn't work, all she wants to do is play Scrabble and she stinks of cabbage."
Ben has trouble with his parents too, they favour glamorous ballroom dancers to his own interests. Ben dreams of being a plumber one day while his parents want him to follow their passion into dancing. Only David Walliams could write a fun and silly book about dancing, plumbing, cabbage, jewel thieves, grannies who fart without realising it and bumbling parents.
It was a Saturday, so after the show had finished the family were going to be having Cheesy Beans and Sausage. Neither Mum nor Dad could cook, but of all the readymade meals Ben's mum took out of the freezer, pricked with a fork and placed in the microwave for three minutes, this was his favourite.
Gangsta Granny is full of the trademark Walliams humour, lists and Raj the newsagent. Once again Tony Ross' illustrations are perfect. And like all David Walliams books Gangsta Granny has a lovely heart. In amongst the humour David Walliams is reminding us that old people were young once, that perhaps they haven't all led boring lives, that you should spend time with them while you can, and tell people you love them if you do.
The lovely folks at Harper Collins gave me a review copy of Gangsta Granny way back in May at the CBCA Conference (my first ever review copy, I'm somewhat disappointed in myself to take six months to read it, but hey at least it was only six months, I have many, many books sitting about the house unread for years).