Grandpa's Great Escape - David Walliams

Genre: Children's/Adventure
Synopsis: Grandpa lives in a Maximum Security Twilight Zone, and his Grandson attempts to set him free. Jack’s Grandpa wears his slippers to the supermarket, serves up tinned tongue for dinner
and often doesn’t remember Jack’s name. But he can still take to the skies in a speeding Spitfire and save the day… An exquisite portrait of the bond between a small boy and his beloved Grandpa – this book takes readers on an incredible journey with Spitfires over London and Great Escapes through the city in a high octane adventure full of comedy and heart.


Review: Even though I guessed in all liklihood this book would not be my sort of thing, I really wanted to give David Walliams a fair chance. I love the premise and I had heard nothing but good things about his other books. Unfortunately, while there are a lot of things I like about the book and the setup showed great promise, ultimately I guessed correctly. There's a very Roald Dahl feel to his work, and I know I'm not the first to say that, but I've never liked Dahl so I'm afraid that's not a plus for me.

Let's talk about the good things, first. It's a very well-written novel. It does not pander, even if it is frequently silly, and it actually contains a glossary at the end explaining the various historical points referred through throughout the story - including who Hitler was. Bit of a history lesson at the end of a book which I do think could genuinely pique childrens' interest in history. The illustrations are fabulous, and add immensely to the story by including accurate depictions of descriptions of the prose, as well as lists, maps etc. The Grandpa character is very very likeable, very sweet, and elicits great sympathy from the reader. Dementia is portrayed quite interestingly - it's never explained in any great or accurate detail, despite the novel containing a mention of 6 million gassed Jews in the glossary.

I suppose that brings me onto what I didn't like - I would have preferred more focus on explaining what dementia is, rather than it primarily being a plot device to enable a history-driven story. I didn't like any of the characters besides Grandpa, and although it's a kids book I couldn't stand the silliness. The two policemen, I can't even remember their names now, for God's sake. Nobody so inept would hold down their jobs. And an entire community would not fail to notice the hoarde of men in women's clothing manning the old folks home. Lastly, the ending. Gah. I won't spoil it, but it gets stupidly impossible and I just can't deal with that at all.

If you like Roald Dahl, you'll probably love this. For what it is, it's great. It's just I don't like what 'it' is.

Rating: 3/5

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