The World’s Worst Monsters by David Walliams

Reviewed by Antonella Townsend

It is said that David Walliams’ books for children cross the brick wall built in the sand by the political correctness brigade.  Personally, I didn’t notice, and I have it on good authority that children reading David Walliams think his books are wonderful.  Even children who normally regard reading as ‘work’ are drawn happily into Walliams’ World.  The latest, The World’s Worst Monsters, as the title suggests, is packed with weird monsters.

The first thing an adult might notice is the quality of this book – brilliant colour on fine glossy paper, and tightly bound.  Clearly this is a keeper, a book for a child’s library to be inherited by his/her children.  And hats off to the illustrator, Adam Stower, he has kept pace with Walliams’ imagination, they work together to entice readers into their zany, fun world.  But there is a method to all the madness.

Everything draws the young reader on: the type face changes in style and size to emphasise the action, or to enhance the meaning of a single word.  Words that might be unknown are in bold, therefore made memorable.  And Walliams has fun with making up his own words while retaining the rhythm, such as ‘pongtastic’, always with an explanation at the bottom of the page, even though not always required as the storyline suggests meaning.  And, as in ‘The True Story of the Loch Ness Monster’, a freshness is added to the text by some Scottish dialect words, with explanation in yellow bubbles to the side – ‘havering’, talking nonsense, or ‘feart’ afraid, and, a useful one, ‘glaikit’ silly.

Embedded in the creatively crazy stories are real facts.  In ‘Mummy the Mummy’ children learn some facts about Ancient Egyptian culture, or ‘The Curious Case of Miss Gorgon’ Ancient Greek legends pop up.   This is education by stealth.  So clever.

Walliams has said that he writes his books for children who do not enjoy reading.  I can’t help wondering what Walliams would come up with should he set his mind on making arithmetic fun for inattentive learners.

The World’s Worst Monsters

By David Walliams

(2023)

Harper Collins

Paperback

ISBN: 978 000858 163 3

$24.99; 288pp

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