Readers of Grandpa’s Great Escape will likely enjoy David Walliams’ recent release, The Midnight Gang, also illustrated by Tony Ross. Presented with opening credits, a set illustration, a cast of characters, and a teaser, the book begins like a feature film with twelve-year-old Tom Charper taking the spotlight as the story’s protagonist.
Walliams welcomes readers to the children’s ward on the 44th floor of Lord Funt’s Hospital, where the children’s parents don’t visit because they are either too poor, too ill, or live too far away to travel. Essentially abandoned and living under the control of a cruel hospital matron, the children make their own adventures with the help of the hospital’s porter, a man whose real name is a mystery and whose job is to move people and things around the hospital.
Twelve-year-old Amber Florence Harriet Latty, the self-proclaimed leader of the gang, is confined to a wheelchair after having broken both arms and legs. She explains to Tom, the newest patient on the floor, that the gang originated with a child in the hospital who passed down the tradition of bringing the children’s dreams to life.
Filled with humor, imagination, and childish pranks, Walliams story entertains while it teaches about the connection between physical and mental health: “. . . if the patients in this hospital are happy, then there is a much better chance of [their] getting better” (146). It also cautions readers about the consequences of judging others based on appearances and shares a basic truth about the preciousness of life and the importance of being kind while there is still time.
- Posted by Donna