As the nights turn darker and the weather becomes chillier, there’s no better way for parents and children to pass the time than to curl up with a good book.
Following on from October’s ‘Recommended Reads’ blog, which focused on Roald Dahl, we’re now delving into the imaginative world of a writer that some have dubbed the ‘new’ Dahl: David Walliams. Whilst parents might be most familiar with Walliams due to his appearances on popular television programmes like Little Britain, his children’s books have been taking the literary world by storm since 2008. Here’s our pick of the best David Walliams books for children:
Best David Walliams Books, #1: Mr Stink
In Mr Stink, David Walliams explores just how deceiving appearances (and even noses) can be. This charming book tells the story of a lonely tramp who strikes up a friendship with Chloe, a troubled young girl from the same neighbourhood. Though Chloe isn’t homeless, she feels ‘homeless in her heart’ and soon bonds with Mr Stink and his dog, Duchess – even hiding them in her garden shed when it looks like Mr Stink and Duchess might be run out of town.
Both heartfelt and hilarious, this inventive tale explores powerful notions of deception, perceptions, and love. Mr Stink teaches children that everyone has secrets; that true value lies beneath the surface; and that friendship can be found in the most unlikely of places.
Best David Walliams Books, #2: Billionaire Boy
Joe Spud is an 11-year-old boy with all the normal problems that come with adolescence – except he also happens to be a billionaire. But though Joe has everything money could buy – from Olympic-sized swimming pools to the latest gadgets – there’s one thing he’s missing: a friend.
So Joe sets to work convincing his father (a man from humble origins who is now a billionaire) to let him enrol in the local comprehensive. But Joe’s battles don’t end there: starting a new school is just the first step on a difficult journey of self-discovery, during which he realises that money can’t buy happiness, and that friends and family are more important than material wealth.
Illustrated brilliantly by Tony Ross, and with a host of quirky, funny, characters, Billionaire Boy is a touching, laugh-out-loud book suitable for children and adults alike.
Best David Walliams Books, #3: Gangsta Granny
Ben doesn’t think he has much in common with his granny. He’s 11 years old, an only child, and hates reading – and Granny is only interested in playing scrabble and eating smelly cabbage soup. He dreads his weekly visits to her house when his parents go to watch ballroom dancing.
However, that all changes when he discovers his granny has an exciting secret: she used to be an international jewel thief – and, what’s more, her life’s ambition is to steal the Crown Jewels! Together they set off an adventure that changes his life forever…
Gangsta Granny is a remarkable book: at once exciting, hilarious and thought-provoking. Hidden amidst the funny illustrations and fart jokes are some compelling insights about our relationships with the elderly, parental pressures, and the unique bond between children and their grandparents.
Best David Walliams Books, #4: The Boy in the Dress
The Boy in the Dress is special for many reasons – not least because it was David Walliams’ literary debut. It tells the story of Dennis, who loves football (which pleases his older brother and lorry-driving father) but also fashion (which doesn’t). His loneliness is exacerbated by the loss of his mother, who left home, and whom he misses terribly.
His dad can’t understand Dennis’s fascination with fashion – he’s horrified when he finds a copy of Vogue magazine stashed under his son’s mattress. But when a stint in detention allows him to strike up a friendship with Lisa, the coolest girl in the school and an aspiring fashion designer, he realises that being ‘different’ isn’t so bad, after all.
The book handles sensitive issues of non-conformity, stereotypes, and adolescent relationships with grace and humour: from the nostalgic references to Um-Bongo to Dennis’s foray into cross-dressing, during which he hilariously pretends to be a foreign exchange student. A wonderful celebration of individuality.
Best David Walliams Books, #5: The Ice Monster
David Walliams’ latest book, The Ice Monster, has received rave reviews from readers and critics alike – including our very own James Baker, who called it ‘a must read’.
The Ice Monster is set in the Victorian era, and follows the journey of Elsie, an orphan living on the streets of London. When the news hits that a mysterious ‘Ice Monster’ has been found in the Arctic, Elsie makes it her goal to find out more, and sets out on a dangerous and exciting trip across the sea.
An epic and thrilling adventure that takes the reader from the hustle and bustle of Victorian London to the wintry wilds of the North Pole, and shows that heroes come in all different forms: from brave little girls to 10,000-year-old-woolly mammoths!