Sunday, 3 March 2019

Fing


Fing by David Walliams, illustrated by Tony Ross (HarperCollins) PB RRP $19.95 ISBN 9780008349080 

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Walliams, the UK multi-million best-selling author, is being touted as the ‘worthy successor’ to Roald Dahl (Telegraph). Certainly, there are similarities in that his books featuring exaggerated characters, are fast-paced, highly imaginative and often funny. Unlike Dahl, Walliams frequently relies on lists (in this book, lists of possessions, jungle animals, and so on). Fing is also filled with typographical extravaganzas and pages of zany and eccentric illustrations by the very talented Tony Ross. On reflection, Dahl seems to be the master and Walliams his acolyte, whether intentional or not.

Fing features Myrtle Meek who is anything but meek, though her librarian parents are certainly meek in name and temperament. They are hugely indulgent of their only child who is a total brat, never satisfied with what they do for her or what they give her. They’ve indulged her wants so much that Myrtle doesn’t know what else she wants except ‘a fing’. Not knowing what a ‘fing’ is, Mr and Mrs Meek venture into the lower vaults of their library where they find The Monsterpedia, a hard copy form of Google. There they find that a fing is to be found in the deepest part of the jungle.

The story switches to Mr Meek’s exploits, overcoming all kinds of dangers, to locate a fing. He brings it back to Myrtle, only to find she already has one (found in the local pet shop). The fing turns out to be every bit – even more – demanding than Myrtle. By book’s end, Myrtle’s parents have what they ought to have had from the start – peace and quiet.

There’s no doubt that readers aged 7 to 11 years will savour this book, even chuckling aloud at the exploits of a child who has everything, not just her parents’ total devotion and attention, but every possession possible. Any kid’s dream! Like Dahl, Walliams has his finger on the pulse of childhood.

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