The Grandma that every child wants and every parent probably fears, this hilarious adventure promises to be a huge hit.
Eleven-year-old Ollie is desperate to join his mum on her trip to Clacton (even though she’s only going to look after poor Aunt Lucy who has been pecked by a parrot). However, when he discovers that his dad’s mum – nicknamed Grandma Dangerous – is coming to look after him, Ollie has to work hard to control his excitement. Grandma has promised to be on her very best behaviour but Grandma’s “best behaviour” isn’t very best at all. The moment mum’s back is turned, they’re off on a mad adventure including a hot-air balloon ride to Australia with a stolen dog that Grandma insists has magical powers.
Grandma Dangerous and the Dog of Destiny has one of the best openings I’ve read for books aimed at this age-range (7-9). Written in first person, we immediate warm to Ollie and sympathise with the trials he has to endure living with a mum who sees danger in just about everything due to her work as a health and safety officer. (I particularly enjoyed the anecdote about how Ollie’s parents met: the music was so loud that mum misheard the word ‘explorer’ and thought his dad said he was an ‘insurer’).
While the opening is strong (and VERY funny), the plot really takes off when Grandma arrives in her multi-coloured mini, driving over the flower bed and parking it in the hedge. This is the Grandma that every child wants – and every parent probably fears. She has no awareness of rules, feeds OIllie on sugar-coated Twinkle Flakes, Marshmallow Fudge Waffles and biscuits, and isn’t above a bit of light thievery, at least where it comes to her new dog.
The plot is suitably mad-cap in a style that is reminiscence of Roald Dahl or David Walliams and gets increasingly silly as the story progresses. I was, at one point, rather troubled about the plight of Ollie’s pet hamster, Myrtle, but finally forgave debut author, Kita Mitchell, on p189. (Sorry, you’ll have to read the book to find out why!)
The hilarious text is complimented by a clever use of bold, enlarged and underlined lettering and wonderful black and white illustrations. Illustrator, Nathan Reed has exactly captured the eccentricities of Grandma Dangerous and manages to give our dog of destiny, Rose, real personality. My favourites, however, are the truly wonderful pictures of the shifty Ed and Bert who spent most of the book in hot pursuit of Ollie and Grandma Dangerous.
If you enjoyed this, you might want to try Pugs of the Frozen North by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. Alternatively, why not pre-order the second book in the series? Grandma Dangerous and the Egg of Glory will be published in January 2019.
Publication date: June 2018
Publisher: Orchard Books
Websites: Nathan Reed (Illustrator)