Jenny Pearson has done it again with another perfect mix of laughs and heart-warming family drama.
Frank John Davenport is not too happy with life. His dad’s shady dealings have forced the family to move home yet again and when his mum is not trying to clean-up dad’s mistakes she is socialising down the tennis club. As for Frank, he is stuck in the middle of it all with no real mates.
But whilst life is busy handing you lemons it can also surprise you when you least expect it. For Frank, this comes in the form of a rather large sum of money from a grandma he didn’t even know existed. But the money comes with a catch…use it to care for the long-lost and rather grumpy Grandpa Frank. Taking his task very seriously and determined to give Grandpa Frank the best possible care, Frank sets about a bucket list to bring some happiness to his Grandpa’s life…
Jenny Pearson’s latest read is two wonderful rollercoasters, one of the adventure kind and one of the emotional kind. Starring a disjointed family, a whole heap of cash, a child’s wonderful imagination and a rather large family secret it is another perfectly written slice of family life told from the perspective of a very innocent, incredibly funny, highly preceptive and extremely creative eleven-year-old.
They say that life is for living and when you have a grandson like Frank he is certainly going to help you live your best life (whether you are a willing participant or not). And Frank junior’s best intentions, that yield the most surprising results, ensure a fun-filled and, unfortunately for Grandpa Frank, often action-packed read. Apart from the occasional sad bit, cue tear in eye, I pretty much read the whole thing with a smile on my face; Frank’s infectious enthusiasm and optimism, his determination to seize life and to ensure his new grandpa lives every day to his fullest shines from every page. Even grumpy Grandpa Frank eventually sees the brighter side of life, although who wouldn’t after hot-air ballooning, monster-truck driving and swimming with ‘dolphins’.
What I love so much about Pearson’s books is that she covers real issues that affect families with honesty and sensitivity. Yes, this is one heck of a funny book - the kind that makes your other half check if you’re ok as you’re laughing so much - but it is also incredibly poignant and heart-felt. Loneliness, family problems and dementia are all gently touched upon and are wrapped up in tender and light-hearted moments that provide umpteen laughs.
Ultimately for Frank and his now slightly bigger family love and forgiveness win the day and I find that reassuring and comforting. Like the wonderful characters, of which there are many, we sometimes all need to rediscover the true meaning of family, to acknowledge that money cannot buy happiness and to recognise that the best things in life really are free.
Children in years five and six should add it to their own bucket list of books to read before they leave primary school.
With huge thanks to Usborne for the copy I received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 9+.