Review by

Bad Dad

High energy antics with a soft heart

BANG! WALLOP! CRUNCH! Bad Dad greets the reader with noisy fanfare. The hotly anticipated new book from David Walliams tells the story of a father and son’s struggle to escape the clutches of a local crime lord, and right ashameful wrong. A riot of car chases and madcap schemes, does it deserve its runaway success at the top of the bestseller charts?

Frank’s dad, Gilbert, is a banger car racer. But not any old banger car racer. He is, in fact, Gilbert the Great, King of the Track, and famous in their home town, along with Queenie, his Union-Jack painted Mini. Frank could not be more proud of him. Life is golden when your dad’s a hero. Until the night of the terrible accident, when an exploding exhaust pipe leads to Gilbert’s leg being amputated. To make matters worse, when he gets home from hospital, it’s to find a note from Frank’s mum Rita. Observant readers will have been harbouring suspicions about her, with her hushed, secret phone calls and somewhat neglectful parenting.

Your mum has gone to live in a big house with a small man

It’s just the two of them now. A downward spiral of events leads to two cold Christmases of unemployment for Gilbert. Feeling like he’s gone ‘from hero to zero,’ he’s tempted by the dark allure of life as a get-away driver. What comes next is a thrilling ride for the reader, with a cast of colourful characters and exuberant illustrations. We encounter a policeman losing his trousers, a flying vicar, and a list of ways to make your bottom freeze. Gilbert’s false leg plays an impressive role in the proceedings too.

This rumpus is complemented by a warm-hearted portrayal of Gilbert and Frank’s relationship and moral dilemma. So many kids love David Walliams’ books, and quite right too! I think it’s because he embraces his inner child with such gusto.

Bad Dad is published by Harper Collins, 464 pages.

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