Grandpa Frank's Great Big Bucket List by Jenny Pearson
When Frank John Davenport inherits piles of money from a grandma he didn't know he had, things take an unexpected turn... Because the money comes with STRICT instructions...and a NEW grandpa.
Frank quickly compiles a list of all the ways he can spend the money and look after his grumpy grandpa. Money may buy hot-air balloon rides, monster-truck lessons and epic parkour experiences, but can Frank discover that happiness is, in fact, priceless?
Let me tell you a secret: I don't like funny books.
Or at least if you had asked me about it a couple of years ago, that's what I would have said. Now I know better.
A couple of years ago I challenged myself to read beyond my own interests in the effort to become better informed about books that might be interesting to the children I teach.
One of the writers that I came across was a new author called Jenny Pearson who had written a book called 'The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates'. I picked it up expecting to find it a bit boring (as this was my preconception about funny books) but discovered to my delight that I absolutely loved it.
It was hilarious-I laughed my way through it. But what made it so brilliant was that it was also poignant and heartfelt and sad in places. It had some ridiculously silly moments but at it's root it also had a boy trying to discover who he was and what family actually meant whilst dealing with grief.
This was a revelation to me-here was a funny book that dealt with some really raw and sad issues with great sensitivity and great humour. It was a lesson in dealing with life with positivity and honesty. I was starting to understand what people saw in funny books. This book set the bar high on what sort of quality I expected from a funny book-a funny book, done right can be a great book.
Last year I was delighted to discover that Jenny's second book 'The Incredible Record Smashers' was equally as good as her first and met my expectations of a great funny book-to be hilariously funny but also poignant and honest and sad in places. It covers the issues of a girl learning to deal with her mother's mental health issues and again has some ridiculously funny moments as well as real heart and soul.
And so finally we come to the actual review for Jenny Pearson's latest book: Grandpa Frank's Great Big Bucket List.
Well, the first thing to tell you is that it does not disappoint. This is a great, funny book. I spent a very enjoyable Saturday reading it and at one point my wife said to me 'You definitely need to say it is laugh out loud funny' as I had spent most of the day chuckling away to myself as I read the book. This book made me laugh. A lot. But it also made me feel sad in parts. It made me cry as well. I was so invested in Frank (junior junior and senior senior) as their relationship built and their adventure progressed. Jenny has this ability to write characters that you really care about.
I realise I haven't actually told you much about the book yet and to be honest I'm not going to go into too much detail about what happens in it, suffice to say that it is a story where the characters grow and develop and discover more about living a good life in a heart-warming (and hilarious) way as the book progresses.
The story centres around the developing relationship between Grandpa Frank and his grandson, also called Frank. All of the Davenport men are called Frank (family tradition) and this leads to the set up of the book where the grandson Frank inherits a large sum of money to look after his grandfather.
Grandpa Frank is a curmudgeonly character when he first appears in the book. He is sad and lonely and has all his defences up to make sure he doesn't get more hurt. I liked him immediately-I'm not sure why this sort of character appeals to me but there you go. Grandson Frank is initially motivated by a further 'reward' for looking after his grandfather, a man who he doesn't know because his father and grandfather became estranged years previously.
As the story progresses Grandpa Frank and his grandson grow to know, love and respect each other. There are many funny moments (some involving a very large hot air balloon) and a whole host of quirky, funny characters that come into the lives of all the Franks.
As with all of Jenny's books there are real issues covered here with sensitivity and honesty. This book looks at loneliness and family relationships and how society views the elderly. I know I have been rather gushing in my praise of it, but it is simply a great book. I make know apologies for saying that, it really is. I can recommend it for anyone from 8+. I think many adults will enjoy it equally as much as children will (I certainly did).