David Walliams’ “Grandpa’s Great Escape”. Review by Pippa Wilson


Synopsis from Good Reads:

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. Illustrated by the award-winning Tony Ross.

So what did I think?

Having read all of David Walliams’ books for children, my expectations were high, especially as I’d bought it as a birthday gift for my eight year old son. Once we finally laid hands on our copy, I was struck by the satisfying weightiness of the hardback. Tony Ross’ cover promises a rip-roaring adventure with Jack and his Grandpa gleefully flying through blue skies in a Spitfire, and the embossed, metallic title gives a lovely tactile feel. As with the other books there is an immediate joke on the front cover: SPITFIRE INCLUDED *Parachute not. To David Walliams fans these things are a big deal!

An initial flick through reveals a generous portion of Tony Ross’ illustrations-the perfect match for  David’s writing. As in the other stories, we are introduced to the cast of villains and heroes with Tony’s portraits, which set your mind ticking, trying to guess what the story is all about. We also get a map and a prologue. As soon as the story starts we understand the special bond between Jack and his grandfather, and how Jack is the only one who can properly relate to the old man who is becoming more confused by the day.

As this very British story progresses, we learn just how deep the bond between the two is. Jack shows us that Grandpa is still there behind the confusion, and we root for the pair of them when the vile Miss Verity attempts to humiliate them, or when Miss Swine tries to keep Grandpa locked up in Twilight Towers. The relationship between the two is very well developed and poignant, and reminds me of Michael Morpurgo’s style. There’s a tenderness that transcends the whole story, which makes it incredibly moving, especially at the end. Admittedly, with the story being set in 1983 it particularly resonates with me as I used to love my grandparents telling me all about their experiences of the second world war. But my eight year old seemed very interested in the historical side too, and he enjoyed asking questions about his great grandparents as we read the story.

For me I think this is David’s best written book yet, particularly with regard to the portrayal of Jack and his beloved grandfather. It’s not as silly as some of the others, but there are plenty of funny moments and lots of adventuring capers. And Raj is in it!!!

I’d definitely recommend this book to readers aged 8 to 12 to read independently or with parents, and I can see a sudden surge in trips to the Imperial War Museum!

I’m wondering whether this will be a film or a BBC drama now…



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