Review: The Midnight Gang

15 December 2016

With The Midnight Gang holding the Number One spot for the 6th week running, David Walliams new book is on every child’s Christmas list.

But what’s all the fuss about? Surely a book is a book is a book? Well, think back to when you were young. Those cosy winter evenings with Nana and Granddad, ever-so-slightly too full from Nana’s incomparably crispy roast potatoes and snuggling the very same stuffed bear your mum had as a child. You know the one – his left eye is missing and his fur worn through from over-cuddling. Nana would read aloud from one of your all-time favourites – a well-thumbed edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, or a story about your favourite bear from darkest Peru. You’d be swept up in the story, lost in your imagination, and sharing a moment together you’d never forget.

Those children’s books we shared were more than just books – they were true classics, beautifully crafted worlds with rich detail and characters we connected with, and an inspiring message that stayed with us forever. We looked forward to reading them again with our own kids, and perhaps even with our grandchildren.

It’s rare these days to find a book with such enduring quality, but The Midnight Gang is just that – a true classic, a gem of a story we know we’ll share with the next generation, and the next.

Best suited to young readers (ages 7-12), David Walliams’ 9th novel is about five young patients in the children’s ward of the dilapidated Lord Funt Hospital, just a stone’s throw from Big Ben. Sneaking out from under the watchful eye of child-despising Matron, the children work together to make their dreams come true. On its surface, it’s a straightforward storyline, and it would be easy to assume that it’s just one of the other fiction titles out there this Christmas, one to pop in your shopping cart for a fiver and forget about in a couple of weeks.

Crack open the book though, and it becomes something else entirely. Described as David Walliams’ most ambitious book yet, The Midnight Gang captures the imagination of children (and their grown-ups) right from the very first page.

Listen to an audio clip of The Midnight Gang read by David Walliams and Peter Serafinowicz

Known for his quick wit, it’s no surprise that David Walliams has penned a story that will have the kids laughing out loud. The characters are so lively and life-like they simply leap off the page, and you’ll swear on your life that Amber, the self-appointed leader of the Midnight Gang, is inspired by your own daughter or grand-daughter. The main ‘villain’ of the story, Matron, is deliciously despicable – the sort of baddie you’ll love to hate. And Tootsie, the dinner lady with the sunniest of sunny smiles, is so artfully described that you’ll be beaming every time she makes an appearance.

And Nelly? Well, let’s just say you’ll be laughing so hard you might want to do a few quick Kegel exercises before you listen to this extract about her adventure over the London skyline.

So, it’s fun, it’s witty, and a sure hit with the kids. What surprised us, though, is that it’s so much more than that. The Midnight Gang is a big-hearted, magical story about how precious life is, and about embracing all of those wonderful moments we’re blessed with.

Make space on the bookshelf – The Midnight Gang is a keeper.

The Midnight Gang, written by Number One bestselling author David Walliams and illustrated by artistic genius Tony Ross, is available in hardback and audiobook. Save 62%: Buy the hardback for only £5 from Amazon.

Four more brilliant books by David Walliams

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.