Book review

The Lost Grandad by Geoff Steward (2000)

Now here's a spiffing adventure, as Grandad would say, and I think you will really enjoy it. It's one of those stories where the story teller keeps stopping to talk to you all the time:

When he was younger, Joseph had liked the stories that you like, and that I liked when I was your age, and that my father liked when he was my ... or rather your age, and that his father liked when he was my father's age ... or should that be my age ... no, in fact, it should be your age. No matter. The point is that Joseph used to like fairy tales.

Stick with Joseph and his Lost Grandad - or maybe that should be his Found Grandad - and you can mind-travel with them to Australia, or somewhere a bit like Australia, and meet some really silly characters.

There's the Old Magic who probably does know a fair amount of magic, but can never quite remember any of it:

'Excuse me,' said Joseph nervously from behind the Lost Grandad's trousers, 'you said you had something important to tell us.'
'Did I?' asked the Old Magic.
'Just then.'
'How important?' asked the Old Magic.
'I don't know,' said Joseph despairingly. 'That was what I was going to ask you.'

And my favourites are Croc 'n' Dale. These are two desperate escaped convicts who have been ordered by the court never to finish their sentences - so Croc has to finish Dale's sentences, and Dale has to finish Croc's, which they both find very frustrating:

'Come on, Joseph, we've got ...' said Croc
'... erm ... what? asked Dale, not knowing what they had got.
'Come on, Joseph, we've got ...' said Croc again, angrily this time.
' ... a lovely bunch of coconuts?' guessed Dale, still confused.
'Come on, Joseph, we've got ... ' said Croc, one more time.
' ... a lot of love between us?' tried Dale desperately.
'Right, Dale, you start by saying ...'
' ... Come on, Joseph, we've got ... ?' said Dale hopefully.
' ... something to show you,' said Croc with relief.

But really this story is all about Joseph and his Lost Grandad, who turns up at just the right moment to help Joseph find his imagination. I don't really know where Joseph's imagination is, to begin with. He's just a rather serious little boy who likes nothing better than to browse through an encyclopaedia, even if he can't spell it. So he needs a few tips from his Grandad on how to get started in the mind-travelling business:

'You just shut your eyes tight, think as hard as you can about where you want to go, and then jump.'

Actually, he needs a bit of practice as well, because his mind wanders on his first attempt and he crashes into the wardrobe door. So that's a rather hard lesson.

You'll have to read the book for yourself to see exactly what kind of adventure they make of it. I think it will give you a laugh, provided you use your imagination.

What can I read next?

Actually, more than anything, this book reminds me of Lewis Carroll's classic:

because of the encounters with weird and wonderful characters, but also because of the jokes, some of which are written for older readers and some for younger readers.

You might also like to look at this book by Peter Carey:

Or any book by Odo Hirsch:

And, of course, Alan Temperley has written a similar, funny book:

Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:

The Lost Grandad features in these lists: