Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: The Ice Monster by David Walliams

– Short Review –

David Walliams is at it again and this time he’s brought a Mammoth with him and a supporting cast that are out of this world with crazy brilliance. Our leader of this motley crew and our guide on this terrific adventure is the young homeless girl called Elsie.

This story has it all and told in that oh so David Walliams way. I would be so bold as to say that it is his best Children’s book to date. Seeing as he’s so often compared to Roald Dahl it only seems fitting to say that this is his Matilda to the world.

– Long Review –

The Ice Monster follows the quite unforgettable story of a homeless young girl called Elsie as she journeys through 1899’s London, fleeing the quite horrid Wormly Hall: Home for Unwanted Children and Mrs Curdle (with a face that could literally curdle milk – illustrated wonderfully by the quite brilliant Tony Ross) the nasty old boot that runs it with an iron fist.

Elsie is searching for a place to call home and a place to belong. Elsie soon finds herself in the Natural History Museum, where she helps bring to life the Ice Monster which is currently frozen and appearing in a new display at the world famous museum.

Elsie and her newly aquatinted friends set about freeing the frozen Mammoth in the most creative of ways – enlisting the help of the infamous Sticky Fingers Gang. This is where the adventure truly begins as our crew set out on returning their defrosted friend to the North Pole.

What I love about The Ice Monster is that the book is both educational and a right hoot. Having the book set in 1899 Walliams wonderfully brings this rich history of ours to life, offering children an engaging and interesting way to learn about our history (a bit like Horrible Histories) it is also clear to see that Walliams has done his research, and in doing this has created a quite remarkable and insightful book. This book would be a great teaching resource to parents and schools alike. The humour of the book is spot on too, there were many jokes which caused me to laugh out loud, and there are some jokes in there for parents too!

The message of the book is the defining glory of this latest outing by Walliams. The book in a way is about belonging, finding your way in a difficult and unpredictable world, it’s about family and fighting for what you believe is right and honourable. Elsie as mentioned previously is a Matilda for a new generation of readers, she has nothing, no material possessions and no family – but we soon discover that she is the catalyst for change for all of the lives she comes into contact with, sharing with them a heart that is so warm it can even bring a Mammoth back from an icy grave (with a little bit of creative thinking and a cunning plan!).

The Ice Monster is journey of discovery, an adventure tale so rich and detailed you can taste the chamber pots in the air. But the true wonderment of The Ice Monster is seeing Elsie discover that she is so very special, that through her dangerous and perilous journey she brings people together, giving people hope who have none and a sense of belonging to those who feel that they don’t belong. By the end Elsie has created an odd family all of her own, where each persons eccentricness is accepted and celebrated – because in the end, aren’t all families a little odd.

There are so many fabulous characters in this book and each of its star players are illustrated at the start of the book with a rouges gallery detailing each of the characters that will appear in The Ice Monster – It’s a great tool and introduction to the characters (something that Walliams does in many of his books). I flicked back to it quite often to get a real feel for each of them. Tony Ross’ artwork also adorns each and every page in the most remarkable of ways, his touches adding to the story telling of Walliams which make the work sing with an intrinsic beauty!

Elsie and The Ice Monster can thaw the coldest of hearts – a true masterpiece from the mind of one of the best story tellers of a generation.

The Ice Monster is published by HarperCollins Children’s and is available here.

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David Walliams

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Since beginning his publishing career in 2008, David Walliams has taken the children’s literary world by storm. His sixth book DEMON DENTIST was published in September 2013 and went straight to number one in the bestseller charts.

Previous bestsellers RATBURGER and GANGSTA GRANNY were also immediate number one hits, and the paperback of GANGSTA GRANNY dominated the UK charts in 2013, remaining at number one for a colossal 22 weeks.

David is currently the fastest growing children’s author in the UK. Following the Christmas 2012 success and BAFTA nomination of the BBC adaptation of his second book, MR STINK, starring Hugh Bonneville, GANGSTA GRANNY was aired in 2013 over Christmas. Walliams’ books have achieved unprecedented critical acclaim and it comes as no surprise that countless broadsheet reviewers have compared him to his all-time hero, Roald Dahl.

Reviewed by Ross Jeffery

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