Grandpa's Great Escape

illus. by Tony Ross. 464p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Harper. Feb. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062560896.
Gr 3–6—Twelve-year-old Jack loves to spend time with his grandfather, who regales him with stories of his daring feats as a British Royal Air Force pilot during World War II. Lately, though, Grandpa has been more and more confused, getting into scrapes because he believes that he is still battling the Nazis. After one particularly dangerous escapade involving an antique plane at the Imperial War Museum, Jack's parents decide to send Grandpa to live at Twilight Towers, the town's new nursing home. When Jack goes to visit his grandfather, he discovers that Twilight Towers is run by some unsavory characters who are drugging the residents and rewriting their wills. Grandpa, understandably, thinks that he is being held in a prison camp, and he hatches a plan to break all of the residents out of the home. After one final adventure as the gentleman's sidekick, Jack must say good-bye to his grandfather, comforted by the amazing memories of their time together. Filled with hyperbolic characters, wild exploits, and zany visual elements, this volume is clearly influenced by Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake. Walliams and Ross revel in impudence and absurdity, and they do not shy away from sinister characters performing nefarious deeds. While the irreverent wit will keep readers engaged, the surprising tenderness in the relationship between Jack and his ailing grandfather is what makes this book truly shine.
VERDICT A darkly humorous tale with a surprising amount of heart. This British import is a solid addition to medium to large middle grade collections.

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