La Serpiente has begun to enjoy chapter books, mostly about a mouse called Sophie, but noticing this development a few months ago, I bought her a copy of Bad Dad by David Walliams. It drew my attention while we were in a bookshop in Fremantle: the cover is bright green, the illustrations are reminiscent of Quentin Blake, Roald Dahl’s illustrator, and a quick skim through the pages made it look like fun.
La Serpiente was rummaging through some of our luggage this week and discovered Bad Dad, which had been secreted away in a Trunki since Australia. So I could hardly resist her demands to start reading it to her.
Bad Dad is about Frank and his father Gilbert, a racing car driver. I assumed various hijinks would develop from this. I didn’t read ahead before I began reading to La Serpiente, so I didn’t realise the first three chapters would involve:
- Gilbert being involved in a horrible pile-up in a banger race, right in front of Frank and having the be cut out of the wreckage of his car…
- … and then having his right leg amputated
- Gilbert returning home from hospital, to find his wife has left him a three line Dear John letter and cleared off to live with some other bloke
- One-legged men aren’t permitted to race cars, so Gilbert loses his job
- So Gilbert can’t afford to pay his bills, and a series of bailiffs come and take away the TV, the sofa, Frank’s prized Scalextrix set (after kicking down the front door to gain access to their flat)
- So to make ends meet, Gilbert gets a job as a getaway driver for the local mob
And that’s just the first three chapters.
Thankfully, perhaps because La Serpiente was exhausted from her big day (a visit to the fire station this morning, then being made to walk around town with me, and then a big swim in the afternoon) so it may have all washed over her, but I’ve got a worry that she’ll absorb concerns about bailiffs, amputations and divorce into her psyche and wake screaming at three this morning.
My wife was less convinced by my sanguine approach and burst in to take the book away from me while we were beginning chapter four. Then again, she has to take the kids to Canada in a week, so she’ll bear the brunt of any terror I’ve inflicted.