Grandpa's Great Escape
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, as the title hints, Grandpa's Great Escape is best-selling British author David Walliams' homage not just to the love between a 12-year-old boy and his grandfather, once an RAF flying ace but now suffering from dementia, but to the entire genre of WWII prisoner-of-war sagas, especially The Great Escape. Set in 1983 in an English village, the story finds young Jack having epic adventures with Grandpa -- or rather, Wing Commander -- as the old man relives the past. After one adventure too many attracts the authorities and lands Grandpa in a creepy, prison-like "home," where the patients are drugged into a stupor and the matron steals their money, the stage is set for stealth, heroics, airplane theft, and other outrageous but cheer-worthy moments. As in other Walliams books, expect some bathroom humor, underwear humor, and occasional nudge nudge, wink wink. But also, a lot of loving, heartfelt, affectionate detail about the Battle of Britain, those who fought it, and those who loved their stories.
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What's the Story?
Steeped in World War II lore, GRANDPA'S GREAT ESCAPE is the tale of 12-year-old English village boy Jack, whose best and only friend is his beloved grandfather, a heroic World War II flying ace with many thrilling tales. Trouble is, it's 1983, but the old man's mind has been slipping, and now he's living in 1940, all the time. Jack's happy to relive his exploits with him, but he also knows the old man's unpredictable ways and the aftermath of their adventures are going to be trouble. When trouble finally comes and Grandpa is carted off to the horrible Twilight Towers, where the prisoners -- er, patients -- are drugged, robbed, and otherwise ill-treated, all seems lost. But the wily old Wing Commander and the brave young Squadron Leader are anything but defeated.
Is It Any Good?
David Walliams and Tony Ross return with a harrowing, hysterical, heartfelt tale of a World War II flying ace and his loving grandson as they battle dementia and authority figures. It's an affectionate tribute to a heroic generation and its exploits -- particularly, as it turns out, with regard to escaping from POW camps. There's a lot of historical detail here (including a helpful reference at the end) about World War II and the battles the characters are reliving, the fine points of various airplanes, etc.
While Grandpa's Great Escape delivers plenty of the intrepid derangement readers expect from Walliams, this one feels more tender and personal than some of the others. You might even want a Kleenex now and then.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the war stories in Grandpa's Great Escape. What did you learn about the Battle of Britain and the heroic young pilots who took part? Do you know anyone who flies planes in the military today?
Do you think you'd like to learn to fly an airplane? Where do you think you might go to learn?
Why do you think escape-from-POW-camp movies remain so popular?
- Author: David Walliams
- Illustrator: Tony Ross
- Genre: Family Life
- Topics: Adventures, Great Boy Role Models, History
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Harper
- Publication date: January 23, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 480
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: November 4, 2019
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