Billionaire Boy by David Walliams

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Billionaire Boy by David Walliams

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Ridiculous, thought-provoking, funny and touching - a thoroughly enjoyable story.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: October 2010
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0007371044

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Joe Spud, son of the inventor of 'Freshbum' toilet roll, is the richest twelve year old in the world. He gets everything he could ever possibly need, and quite a lot of things he most certainly doesn't, including robot dogs from Japan, every computer game in the world, an underground 10 lane bowling alley and a private race track along with his own Formula One racing car. The one thing he doesn't have, and the one thing that it turns out money can't buy for him, is a friend.

I loved this story. It's so silly, ridiculously so, but it knows that and plays on it. At the same time as being completely unrealistic it is also somehow very real, very honest and quite touching. Joe's relationship with his dad is both funny and tragic - with Mr Spud unable to say 'I love you' back to Joe and merely replying 'ditto'. The scenes at school, with slow-minded bullies and aggravating teachers are also silly and funny, yet real enough to be recognisable.

Walliams' previous two books were illustrated by Quentin Blake. This time it's Tony Ross, but there's nothing lost as he has a similar, scrappy sort of style that enhances the tone of the story. As you see, I ended up taking off half a star, but really this was down to personal taste - the book has just a few too many lists of things for me. There are lists of things Joe has, lists of school lessons, a list of made-up rude words (which did make me smile) and so on. I suspect lots of younger readers will enjoy them but they just tipped the scales into overkill for me.

However, I enjoyed the reappearance of Raj, the owner of the local corner shop, who once again made me smile with his special offers and hard-sell tactics. I also liked the school dinner lady who serves up delights such as Gerbils on toast, Dandruff Risotto and Bogey bhajis! I know silly food items and a boy who wipes his bum with fifty pound notes sounds like nonsense, but this book isn't all flim-flam and frippery. There's an engaging plot and character development galore as we watch Joe learn the real value of friendship and his father learns how to properly express his love for his son as well as face the realisation that all the money in the world can't buy you happiness. Definitely one to steal from the kids and hide inside your copy of The Guardian on your commute to work!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: If you haven't already then you really should read The Boy in the Dress.

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