Awful auntie by David Walliams
HarperCollins, 2016. ISBN 9780007453627
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Humour, Horror, Orphans, Ghosts. With tongue in cheek humour, and a lot of slapstick and situational comedy, Walliams has written a hilarious story of a childhood complete with dead parents, an avaricious aunt, a butler who is away with the fairies and a ghost called Soot. Waking helplessly swathed in bandages Stella finds that her aunt wants the deeds to her house, Saxby Hall to force her to sign the house over to her, and will stop at nothing to achieve her desire. Aunt Alberta's poisoning of her brother and his wife was meant to include their daughter, Stella but she tipped her tea into the pot plant. Her formidable aunt along with her pet owl, a Great Bavarian Mountain Owl, no less, called Wager, loves tiddlywinks but only if she wins. Consequently Stella's father has hidden the deeds in a place she will never look, the rule book for the game. But Aunt Alberta is a force to be reckoned with, not only wearing her best Sherlock Holmes' outfit, she spends the time while Stella is trapped in her bandages to good effect, almost turning the house and all of tis contents upside down in search for the deeds.
Tied to a rack in the cellar, Stella sees Soot the ghost of a former chimney sweep in this hall who wants to help her. Together the pair devise plans to thwart aunt's plans and readers will love the various tricks they perpetrate to unseat aunt. Funny from first page to the last, readers will love following the exploits of Stella and Soot, helped along with Tony Ross' very funny illustrations, especially those at the start, introducing the characters. He obviously relished doing the illustrations making sure that all readers could be in no doubt about the character of his subjects. Even the owl, Wagner, looks intimidating.