Friday, June 12, 2015

Billionaire Boy, by David Walliams

Staff Review by Chris Saliba

A fun entertainment full of gross humour, great characters and a heart-warming message about the importance of friendship.

David Walliams, one half of the comedy team behind the Little Britain series, has made quite a career for himself writing children’s novels. Billionaire Boy is his third, with illustrations by Tony Ross. I must admit this was somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me. The story is full of gags and silliness, with some fun comic characters, and is wrapped up with a neat message about the value of friendship.

Twelve-year-old Joe Spud is enormously rich. His father, Leonard Spud, a former toilet paper factory worker, has invented a double sided toilet paper called Bum Fresh. It proves to be a revolution in personal hygiene, making Mr Spud hugely wealthy. The Spuds can now have anything they want, their days of working class struggle over.

Joe goes to a super posh private school, but his wealth is not making him happy. He doesn’t fit in and doesn’t have one single friend. The rich kids tease him because his wealth is derived from toilet paper. He decides to leave the posh school and try a local comprehensive. Things go well to begin with. He makes friends with Bob. At last his dream of having a friend is realised. But then his wealth starts to complicate matters and he finds himself in all sorts of trouble. His problems seem intractable until, strangely enough, a disaster hits which sets all his wrongs to right.

I laughed out loud many a time during Billionaire Boy. David Walliams has a gift for drawing grotesque and eccentric characters. Special mention must go to Mrs Trafe, the school dinner lady. Her menus are truly dreadful and Walliams has lots of fun thinking up horrid dishes that will have you clutching your stomach and reaching for a barf bag. The newsagent owner, Raj, with his out-of-date lollies and chocolate bars, is another favourite. He gets some of the funniest dialogue in the whole book. The whole story is well conceived and paced, making Billionaire Boy a great entertainment with a heart warming message. If you’re looking for something cheerful and zany, then this is just the ticket.

Billionaire Boy, by David Walliams. Published by HarperCollins. ISBN: 9780007445349  RRP: $14.99

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