Title: Billionaire Boy
Author: David Walliams
Publisher: June 2011 by HarperCollins Children’s Books (first published October 28th 2010)
Synopsis: A hilarious, touching and extraordinary new fable from the author of The Boy in the Dress and Mr Stink. Joe has a lot of reasons to be happy. About a billion of them, in fact. You see, Joe’s rich. Really, really rich. Joe’s got his own bowling alley, his own cinema, even his own butler who is also an orangutan. He’s the wealthiest twelve-year-old in the land.But Joe isn’t happy. Why not? Because he’s got a billion pounds… and not a single friend. But then someone comes along, someone who likes Joe for Joe, not for his money. The problem is, Joe’s about to learn that when money is involved, nothing is what it seems.The best things in life are free, they say – and if Joe’s not careful, he’s going to lose them all…
I suppose I should say that this isn’t the sort of book I would read. I found it in a pile of stuff being passed on to charity/bring and buy sales/just plain given away at the beginning of the school year and I thought I would rescue it. It did after all say it was a children’s novel on the front.
And then the book is very, very silly. From the beginning where we are introduced to Joe Spud racing round his formula one race track on his own, silly things happen. There are lists of things Joe owns and whole pages of ‘Screech’, ‘blob’ and ‘hahahaha’. Joe convinces his Dad to take him out of his posh private school and put him in the local comp. There he makes a friend called Bob. Bob is picked on by the Grubb twins and the story follows Joe and Bob’s up and down friendship, how the Grubbs’ are dealt with (or not) and what happens when new girl Lauren starts at school. There’s also some more characters: Raj the sweetshop owner and the dinner lady Mrs Trafe who cooks the most unspeakable things on earth.
The humour is extremely slapstick and I suspect appeals to boys as there are some really disgusting things in it. Another reason I think boys might enjoy it more than girls is that Walliams always aims to laugh at the issues: obesity, sexism, friendship, bullying, father son relationships, rather than explore them too deeply. There are a lots of fat jokes and page three models.
So, in summary, if you like silliness and you want an easy read, then this is for you (it just wasn’t totally for me). He’s just won the Red House Book Award for Gangsta Granny, which means that people who like his books really like his books. I’ll be recommending this to the kids at school (just as soon as I’ve returned it) and maybe even checking out some of his other titles.
I gave this book:
- Gangsta Granny by David Walliams – Review (guardian.co.uk)
- TV’s a turn-off: David Walliams wishes he could be a full-time writer (mirror.co.uk)