The World’s Worst Pets by David Walliams

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve

David Walliams never fails to strike an irresistible and funny chord with young children. His latest series of books, including The World’s Worst Parents, The World’s Worst Teachers and The World’s Worst Children, have sold millions of copies and establishes him as one of the most successful children’s writers of all time.

The latest, the sixth, is The World’s Worst Pets. Pets are appealing to nearly all children. They are sympathetic, uncritical and uncomplicated. A child’s pet can be anything from a rock to a pony, a hermit crab, a mouse, a cat or dog. Even a stuffed animal.

Generally, they are predictable and always uncritical. A child loves the comfort of this conformity. This reassurance vanishes in Walliams’s book which produces hilarious sketches of pets abandoning their normal expected behaviours to be very bad indeed.

Whereas a child needs the security of routine behaviours, many also relish the experience of ‘breaking out’ and ‘kicking over the traces’, or just being really naughty.

The worst pets in this book are bound to amaze a child if they imagine the reality of a supersonic tortoise, the rabbit who becomes a successful magician, and the bloodcurdling Grizzly Bear tale when two children decide it is the world’s worst pet.

My favourite is ‘The Secret Diary of a Supervillain’s Cat’. Candelabra, with oceans of ‘sang froid’ relates her adventures with the dastardly supervillain, who is planning to take over the world, undaunted by his past failures, such as creating an army of robot killer bananas, stealing all the socks in the world then selling them back at 100 times the price, and holding the US President’s underpants to ransom! In the process they meet a British secret service agent, 0061/2……

There are ten different terrible pets, but such is the rib-tickling hilarity, it is suggested that they be tackled to be enjoyed one at a time! Laughter should be savoured….

It takes 300 pages to relate the histories of the ten worst pets, but the book is so attractive the size is not a drawback. The pages have colourful, cartoon style illustrations that echo the exuberant extravagance of the stories and without Adam Stower’s brilliant art work, the book would lose a lot of its appeal. His funniest page is where he illustrates the posters for West End musicals, in Monty the Musical Dog. Inspired by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, there is Goats the Musical, Worms the Musical, Parrots the Musical and Stick Insects the Musical, and many more … not to be missed!

Some have remarked that David Walliams has taken on Roald Dahl’s mantle. He is witty, clever and his humour entertains all ages. At times he, like Dahl, is daringly disrespectful of authority. He is, probably, more lighthearted and ensures a new Walliams book is always an exciting prospect.

The World’s Worst Pets


by David Walliams

Harper Collins

ISBN 978 000849 977 8

$24.99; 300pp

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