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(Originally, I was going to have a separate blog to post book reviews, but the idea never really took off. So, from time to time, I’m going to pick a book that I read recently and give it a full five star review here. The books won’t necessarily be new releases because I’m just going to follow my reading habits. Hopefully the reviews will still be of interest. Enjoy!)

Kudos to David Walliams for this fresh, funny book!

Style-wise, it channels a lot of Roald Dahl – but instead of wallowing in nostalgia, the author brings the format bang up to date, name-checking (or spoofing) modern British staples like Strictly Come Dancing, Heat magazine, “nail technicians”, and real life crime books. The result is a delightful blend of old and new: comforting and fresh at the same time.

To give a brief overview of the story, Ben hates having to visit his smelly, cabbage-obsessed Granny. All that changes when he discovers that she used to be an international jewel thief. Fascinated by her stories, he collaborates with her on a plot to pull off the most daring heist of all time.

Although it’s very good, it’s not quite perfect. The pace seems slightly slow at the beginning; there’s a major-seeming subplot about dancing (with lots of comic potential) that ultimately gets rushed out of the way; and while the flatulence humour is a fine example of the form, it won’t appeal to everyone.

However, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this. Without wanting to ruin the surprise, it also has an unexpected (but well-executed) bittersweet depth to it.

All in all, Gangsta Granny is a nice little gem (with spot-on illustrations from veteran Tony Ross) and I expect it to delight children and parents alike.

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