WARNING: DO NOT GIVE THIS BOOK TO YOUR OWN GRANDMA. SHE MIGHT GET IDEAS…
Introducing Grandma Dangerous, a hilarious, danger-chasing Grandma who defies every stereotype that we have about old age pensioners, in her first outing in this fun news series , ‘Grandma Dangerous and the Dog of Destiny’ by newcomer to children’s literature, Kita Mitchell. When Ollie’s safety obsessed Mum goes to look after his sick aunt, Grandma Dangerous is drafted in to look after him. The most dangerous thing that his safety officer, Mum does is knit, so this is quite the change for him. Within a ridiculously short amount of time Grandma Dangerous has lived up to her name, by lighting the house on fire and kidnapping a dog! Ollie also learns that his mum has really gone because his Dad is missing. They decide to find him along with sidekick Piper, an annoying girl from Ollie’s school.
This might be for you if you like comedy, with a bit of adventure and if you like your fictional parents and grandparents to be as mad as hatters.
Other books you may like would include Gangsta Granny by David Walliams, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl , How to Train Your Parents series by Pete Johnson and Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell.
This comic adventure provides light-hearted escapism with memorable characters, in other words it’s great fun. Ollie is an ordinary boy with an extraordinary grandmother. She’s a fearless explorer who has previously lost a leg in a hot air balloon crash. She doesn’t believe in being shy and retiring and is always up to something crazy. His father has followed in her footsteps and has become an explorer too, but he has gone missing in Australia. Grandma Dangerous is supposed to mind Ollie while his mom finds his Dad but Grandma Dangerous decides that they should help too. A crazy journey to the other side of the world ensues. This is convenient as Grandma may have stolen an important dog and they might just have to run for it. Could this be the adventure that Ollie needs? Has something sinister actually happened to his Dad?
The characters are what make this book in my opinion. Grandma is consistently hilarious and will make you wish you were more like her. Ollie and Piper initially annoy each other and the banter between them is really relatable and will be relished by kids. Bert and Ed, the dog of destiny’s original owners have villainous shades of Cruella Devil. Publicity obsessed Bruce who invites them to stay in his hotel while they are in Australia, is so dastardly and is a character you will love to hate.
Are there any negative aspects to this wonderful-sounding book I hear you ask? Well, yes and no. The story will appeal most to ages 7-9 but struck me as a bit too crazy for children above this age. For example, they travel to Australia in a hot air balloon in about a day with no problems, there are multiple overly simplistic disguises and obvious plot twists that can be seen coming. This isn’t going to be conceivable to more cynical or questioning readers but it is consistently funny and young readers are responding well from what I can see in the book charts. The book is also easy to read without using overly simplistic vocabulary which can be a bit of a problem in this genre. I could imagine the type of reluctant readers that I work with in my library being enchanted by the vivacious characters and the fast-paced plot.
Last but not least, Nathan Reed’s margin illustrations every few pages really added to my enjoyment of the story. They are quirky and cartoonish and perfect for children who are transitioning from picture books to novels. (Significant parts of the text are also emphasised in heavy font which would make this book fun to read out loud with parents).
All in all, this is a quick read that will definitely keep you entertained over the summer holidays. When you’re finished you should give it to your grandma!
Grandma Dangerous and the Dog of Destiny is published by Orchard Books and is available here.
Kita Mitchell has animated children’s programmes such as “Eggs & Baker” for the BBC and “Fireman Sam” for Channel 4. She received an MA in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa in 2017 and her debut children’s book series about Grandma Dangerous was acquired at auction by Orchard Books.
She lives in Oxfordshire with four daughters, sixteen chickens and a hamster.
Reviewed by Belinda Carvalho
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