A famous race-car driver tragically loses his leg in an accident, resulting in him losing his job. His wife leaves him, and in order to keep a roof over his and his son's head, he borrows money from some pretty shifty men. When they realise he can't possible repay them, he is forced to assist them in a bank robbery, landing him in jail. His son breaks him out of jail to try and clear his name.
.... Sounds like the plot of an action movie, right? Not so much a book aimed at 8+ year olds!
Rating: I gave this a 3.5 out of 5. I liked it, but certainly didn't love it.
Age Suggestion: 8+ for confident readers
Ability Range: This is pretty long, so that may be a deterrent
Content Notes: I think one of the reasons I struggled with this one is the plot. Frank, our protagonist, goes through the trauma of seeing his father in a horrible accident (the scene was too reminiscent of the gorge stampede in The Lion King), then his mother leaving and wanting nothing to do with him, and then poverty. He is witness to gang activity, and his father ends up in prison. There are not enough 'huggles' in the world that will leave a kid unscarred after all of that trauma. I know a 'funny' kids book may not be the right place to discuss such issues, but the reality is that these are things that real kids do have to go through and find a way to cope with (except maybe getting your aunt and dad to swap places in prison, that seems highly unlikely). For some kids it may be nice to see themselves somewhat represented, but for others the 'happily ever after' ending may just seem cruel.
I will definitely read more of Walliams work - Demon Dentist is already on my bedside table!