Bad Dad by David Walliams
HarperCollins, 2017. ISBN 9780008254339
(Age: Middle - Upper primary) Recommended. "Dads come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There are fat ones and thin ones, tall ones and short ones. There are silly ones and serious ones, loud ones and quiet ones. Of course there are good dads. And there are bad dads . . . "
Here, David Walliams has created a dad who, despite his failings, loves his son Frank immensely. Whilst racing Queenie, his old Mini emblazoned with the Union Jack, Dad has an accident and loses not just his leg but his title as "King of the Track". With Frank sleeping by his dad's hospital bed, mum finally walks out and leaves dad for another man. Eventually dad loses his job, along with his celebrity status, and falls into a depression. On Frank's eleventh birthday, dad gives him an amazing racing set and the pair spend many hours playing with it together. Soon thereafter, hard-faced debt collectors appear at the door and take everything Frank and dad still owns.
With Auntie Flip as a baby-sitter, Frank leaves the house one night to follow his dad on what he knows is an extraordinary outing. He witnesses Dad acting as the driver in a bank robbery, in order to pay off his debts. Thus begins an incredible adventure for the pair, culminating in Frank being able to fulfil one of his lifelong dreams. The addition of some hilarious characters, including the Reverend Judith the local vicar, lead to some unexpected twists and turns in the plot.
My first ever David Walliams book, this has convinced me that the comparisons to Roald Dahl are not without some substance. This was an entertaining, easy read and has explained the students' eagerness to devour each new Walliams title as it is released. Double spaced print, font which changes to highlight various words or parts of the text, and a liberal smattering of cartoon style illustrations, make this novel eminently accessible to boys and girls in the middle to upper years of primary school. I'm sure this won't be the last Walliams book I will read either, as it's a great romp.