Book Review: AniMalcolm - David Baddiel

Malcolm’s family are quite fond of animals - you could say they are obsessed. They have two cats, a dog, a hamster and an iguana. They go to the zoo every week. It’s the primary topic of conversation.

Malcolm, however, is not a big fan (especially since the infamous “Monkey Incident”). So when Malcolm is given a chinchilla as an 11th birthday present (instead of the “fastest and coolest and baddest laptop on the planet” like he wanted) he’s had about enough of his family. So he is relieved to be allowed to go on the three day Year 6 school trip, until he discovers that this year the destination is an organic farm where they get to help look after the animals. Just when he thinks that things can’t get any worse, Malcolm gets hypnotised by a cranky old goat and wakes up to find himself in a very troubling situation indeed.

This was a light, silly, funny, enjoyable book with lively illustrations, likeable characters and imaginative world building - the inter-species communication was particularly fun (do you speak Goat?). The plot was not exactly original or groundbreaking, but it was ridiculous, incorporating elements of A Christmas Carol (Malcolm’s anti-animal agenda challenged by supernatural intervention) and The Sword in The Stone (valuable life lessons learnt while spending time as a variety of animals).

AniMalcolm is sure to appeal to fans of David Walliams, Roald Dahl, Rachel Renee Russell and Jeff Kinney. David Baddiel was a comedy superstar in the early 90s (“that’s your mum, that is” - he and Rob Newman pretty much invented Stadium Comedy in the UK), and with this, his third book for children*, he’ll be cementing his reputation as a comedy legend for a whole new generation.

*Not counting his World Book Day title last year.

What do you think?