Review: Awful Auntie by David Walliams

Awful Auntie by David Walliams

What’s not to love about a David Walliams book? Well… nothing. They’re great! They’re warm, funny and meaningful. They’re also brilliantly illustrated and they have appeal right across the 8-108 age range; they are not just restricted to kids!

I have now read most of his books (skipping The Demon Dentist – I’m really not that keen on the theme) and I haven’t yet read Ratburger. All the ones I have read have been brilliant. David is definitively the new Roald Dahl of children’s literature. No other children’s writer has come close to pulling off the Roald Dahl style of humour but Walliams does it brilliantly. Three of his books have won the National Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year – Awful Auntie, Demon Dentist and Ratburger and they’ve all sold a crazy number of copies.

Great Bavarian Mountain Owl, illustration from Awful Auntie by David Walliams. Picture by Tony Ross.

Aunt Alberta is a truly awful Auntie. Her niece Stella has been orphaned – parents, Lord and Lady Saxby, killed in a horrific car crash – and Alberta is ‘looking after’ Stella at Saxby Hall, the family pile, while trying to trick her niece out of her inheritance. Aunt Alberta has a pet Great Bavarian Mountain Owl, called Wagner, who assists her in her evil schemes and has been devoted to her since he was a little owlet. There is also an ancient butler at the hall who is deaf as a post and gets everything muddled, so he’s no help to Stella for protection from her wicked aunt. Stella’s one salvation comes in the form of the ghost of a chimney sweep but will he be enough of an ally to help her overthrow her wicked aunt?

…’the butler was marching proudly down the corridor carrying his silver tray. Wobbling on top of it was a tiny pot plant. “Your breakfast, Duchess!” he announced, as he opened the door to a cupboard and stepped inside.’

The butler only makes brief appearances but he’s a firm favourite with me. All of the characters are well-described and then brilliantly brought to life by Tony Ross’s illustrations. There are some great laugh-out-loud moments, especially if you read it aloud and I have no hesitations in recommending it to anyone and everyone. And once you’ve read Awful Auntie, get down to your local bookshop or library and buy or borrow some more David Walliams novels to enjoy with, or without, your children or grandchildren!

About the Author

I’m not sure that David Walliams needs introducing so I’ll confine this to mentioning his literary output. So far David has written Camp David (2012), his autobiography; co-authored Inside Little Britain (2006); 4 children’s picture books – The Slightly Annoying Elephant, The First Hippo on the Moon, The Queen’s Orang-utan, and The Bear Who Went Boo! – and 9 novels for children; they are:
The Boy in the Dress
Mr Stink
Billionaire Boy
Gangsta Granny
Demon Dentist
Awful Auntie
Grandpa’s Great Escape
The World’s Worst Children

Where to Buy

You can buy Awful Auntie from your local independent bookshop, or you can buy online from and still support your local independent bookshop by nominating them to receive a percentage of your sale on Hive. Shop local, where possible, to help keep your High Streets alive. The current RRP for a new paperback is £6.99, ISBN no 9780007453627. Like most of our new books, we usually have this for sale in the bookshop at a discounted price. Published HarperCollins Children’s Books in 2014.



6 thoughts on “Review: Awful Auntie by David Walliams”

  1. I have to admit that I’ve not actually read any David Walliams books but I am a huge Roald Dahl fan and I think it’s a bit of a shame really that he’s being copied so exactly. In a way I’m surprised Walliams’ books pass copyright. However I know a lot of fans love the fact that Dahl’s writing style is being brought to life again. What’s your view on this mimicking technique?

    1. That’s interesting. Personally I think Walliams has a style of his own which, although similar, is still unique to him and different to Dahl. I think the Dahl comparisons apply partly due to the similarity of humour, but also to the disregard for convention and for taking on themes which other writers (at the time) weren’t / aren’t writing about, i.e. Mr Stink, The Boy in the Dress, Grandpa’s Great Escape. The Dahl comparisons also apply (and this in a really good way) because the illustrations are really similar as well. 2 books were illustrated by Quentin Blake (so same illustrator) and now Tony Ross follows the same style which I find really endearing. Writers have been mimicking, or taking inspiration from, other writers for years and to great effect so I like what Walliams does and there’s no denying that this style of writing has mass appeal to children and (I’ve seen it in the bookshop) has encouraged a lot of children to get into books, or continue their journey of reading. Do read one; you’ll see the similarities but you’ll also see that they’re quite different in their own way!

      1. Thanks for your thoughts. I suppose I’m in favour of anything that gets kids reading so maybe I’ll give Walliams a go! And you’re right in saying that all writers take inspiration, after all, nothing can possibly be 100% original anymore!

      2. Hi, yes do give him a go. I think Roald Dahl would have approved of Walliams’s books, I honestly do and I’m sure he would have been flattered by the similarity of style – and kids really do love them (and kids are the harshest critics there are!).

  2. I’ve been so curious about David Walliams’ books. I’m familiar with him from Little Britain, but he isn’t particularly well known in my neck of the woods (I’m in the US).

    1. Hi, do give him a try. I wasn’t a particular fan of Little Britain to be honest but I really enjoy his children’s books. I started with Mr Stink (which is great – girl befriends a smelly tramp who turns out to be more interesting than he first appears) and I particularly loved Grandpa’s Great Escape but, genuinely, all the one’s I’ve read have been good!

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