England during World War Two. So many tragedies were occurring daily, but one thing that most of us forget about is the captive animals. What if your furry best friend was at risk of being killed? What lengths would you go to, to save them?
This story follows Eric, an orphaned eleven-year-old boy who has formed a close friendship with Gertrude the Gorilla, whose residence is at London Zoo. To the grown-ups, she is just a gorilla but Eric sees her as so much more.
At some point in the story, Gertrude the Gorrila’s life becomes endangered. Erice enlists the help of his uncle, Sid, to rescue Gertrude from certain death. That involves breaking her out of the zoo, escaping London, and finding a remote place to hide her. As you can imagine, that is no easy task. Whilst all of that is going on, there are also regular bombings from the Germans.
There are various hiccups along the way that lead Eric, Sid, and Gertrude in potentially more danger than they could have ever imagined.
Reading David Walliams’ books around Christmas has become a tradition for me. I’m not a child (obviously) nor do I have children but one year, I received The Midnight Gang as a gift. It took me by surprise but I read it anyway and thoroughly enjoyed it. Ever since then, I have read his books around Christmas time. Not only is it really relaxing but often the stories are somewhat uplifting.
The writing is engaging and the illustrations perfectly encompass the descriptions. It’s nice to see that what you imagine is so close to what the author had envisioned. The pace of the story is great and one of the reasons that I didn’t talk too much about the plot is because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.
I love a happy ending, which is to be expected from most children’s books but I like the fact that there is a historical element. Initially, I wasn’t sure about it as one of the reasons I read David Walliams’ books is to get away from real-world problems. But it didn’t center too much on it. What’s great about it, is sparking an interest for children to learn more about history and what happened during World War Two.
There are a lot of onomatopoeias which caused me to lose focus on the actual plot. However, it is a children’s book and it helps them to immerse themselves in this story.
I would genuinely recommend this book to both children and adults. It’s fantastic to be able to go on an adventure and follow these characters on a crazy journey, but one that has purpose. It’s fascinating to see how an adult’s rational decisions can be seen as cruel from a child’s perspective and it can help us to remember to follow our hearts rather than logic (at times). It incorporates history beautifully and it is right on the edge of believable which is why it’s perfect for everyone.
My Rating - 8/10