Jack and his grandfather, a former RAF pilot, are inseparable, even though Grandpa’s grasp on reality is slipping.
It’s 1983, and 12-year-old Jack adores his grandfather and the stories he tells of the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. Problem is, Grandpa lives in his stories now. Jack knows just how to talk to Grandpa: he’s Squadron Leader, and Grandpa is Wing Commander. When Grandpa is found stuck on a church steeple thinking he’s flying his plane, the vicar suggests Twilight Towers. Jack insists Grandpa never be put in a home, but after a disastrous class trip to the history museum that ends in police custody, Grandpa is carted off to Twilight Towers, which is run by the ominously named and more than a little peculiar-seeming Miss Swine. Can Jack and Grandpa effect an escape? And what is really going on with Miss Swine and her cadre of burly nurses? Walliams walks a fine line in his attempt to make dementia funny and doesn’t always succeed. Grandpa’s misunderstanding of the world around him gets repetitious. Though Jack and Grandpa have a realistic and touching relationship, Jack acts much younger than 12. The book’s use of various typefaces and fonts for emphasis and drama, plus ample illustrations from the always splendid Ross, will keep the pages in this plump volume turning, though.
This Dahl-esque tale may not be quite scrumdiddlyumptious, but it’s a mostly entertaining one. (Historical fiction. 7-10)