Awful Auntie by David Walliams

cover image

Ill. by Tony Ross. Harper Collins, 2014. ISBN 9780007453610
(Age: 7-12 years) Recommended. As has been previously noted by reviewers more knowledgeable than I, move over Roald Dahl, David Walliams is in the house. With characters that remind us of the Dahl classics, and illustrations that add to the humour of the text what is not to like.
Awful Auntie is set in Saxby Hall, during winter, in some distant past. The Hall is occupied by Gibbon an ancient, bumbling butler, Aunt Alberta, a Miss Trunchbull clone and the most awful aunt ever, her companion Wagner a giant Bavarian Mountain Owl with a strange and interesting relationship to Aunt Alberta, a ghostly chimney sweep, Soot and Lady Stella, heir to the hall.
Stella awakes to find herself bandaged from head to toe only to find that her parents were killed in a car accident, months ago and Aunt Alberta was in charge. Aunt Alberta lost all her inheritance due to an unfortunate addiction to Tiddlywinks and has designs on taking over Saxby Hall.
Having been frightened by her Aunt, Stella escapes her bandaging and frees herself from her room in an attempt to get away. Unfortunately Wagner raises the alarm and she is tossed in the coal cellar 'for her own safety'. Here Stella meets Soot, the young resident ghost, killed by an unfortunate fire in the chimney he was sweeping at the time. Soot is only visible to Stella and uses the chimney network to move unnoticed about the house.
Having discovered the truth about her parent's accident, Stella and Soot plan to expose Aunt Alberta as the murderer she is, through a series of madcap adventures, where any and everything can happen from marbles scattered on the floor, a bogus policeman, to a car chase in the snow. Tony Ross's illustrations only add to the sense of chaos and enjoyment .
The addition of a letter of complaint from a Walliam's favourite character, Raj, alerts readers to look for other titles from this author or visit the website. What an interesting form of self promotion.
Sue Keane