By David Walliams
Published by HarperCollins
ISBN 978 00073714440
David Walliams is one of Britain's funniest TV comedians, and he is also fast becoming a respected and popular author of very funny books for youngsters.
In his short career as a children's author, he has sold more than a quarter of a million books in Britain alone. With his third novel, the hilarious Gangsta Granny, Walliams proves without a doubt that he is not just another celebrity jumping on the write-a-book-for-kids bandwagon.
Following in the massive footsteps of the great Roald Dahl, Walliams knows how to make youngsters chortle and laugh out loud. Adults might turn their nose up at some of his jokes, but kids will love them. His books are delightfully comic, and aimed fairly and squarely at kids.
Eleven-year-old Ben really doesn't like his grandma. He finds her annoying, boring and a pain in the neck. She has horrible white hair, false teeth and she keeps tissues stuffed up the sleeve of her cardigan. All she is interested in is playing Scrabble and making cabbage soup. Her home smells of cooked cabbage all the time and Ben hates having to pay her a visit.
Ben dreads Fridays, when his parents go ballroom dancing, and he has to spend the night at his grandma's. But little does Ben know that his grandma is not the boring old lady he thinks she is, but a former international jewel thief.
Ben's life takes a dramatic turn when he finds a biscuit tin stuffed with jewels in his grandma's kitchen. Are they fake? What are they doing there?
Granny has no option but to tell Ben the truth about her secret life.
She admits that she is not the boring old lady he thinks she is. She has led a life of secret adventure. And there is one thing she wants to do before she dies: end her career of crime on a high by stealing the crown jewels from the Tower of London.
And there you are. After Ben's discovery, Walliams fires on all comic cylinders as Ben gets caught up in Granny's latest heist.
It's all over the top, but youngsters will hoot with laughter as our two bungling burglars break into the Tower of London.
And who do they find waiting for them in the jewel room? None other than the Queen of England herself!
While Walliam's latest comic caper is hilarious, it is tinged with pathos, but he manages to chart the changes in Ben's relationship with his grandma without resorting to sentimental mushiness.
There are sad bits as the story comes to an end, and Walliams delivers these expertly.
Gangsta Granny is charming, funny and surprising, and it is all delivered by a writer full of mischief and natural wit.
The book is a joy for kids both young and old.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com