'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 16 November 2022

Review: Digging Up Dad - And Other Hopeful (And Funny) Stories

Reading Digging Up Dad is like slipping on your jim jams, sipping a hot chocolate and watching your very favourite film with your bestest friends. 

It’s warm, witty and intelligent with just enough naughty bits to truly bring the shock factor and laugh-out-loud moments.

So, confession time. Gleitzman had me from Two Weeks With The Queen, and he’s held onto me (sometimes tenuously, as I grappled with the content in his more challenging works) ever since. 

Digging Up Dad is a breath of unique and refreshingly original air, at a time when many of us need to find our way back to hope and trusting in life again. 

It seems this was intentional on the part of the author:

I found myself… wondering if young people might be able to do a bit of making things better themselves. Not just in their own lives, but also in the lives of their families, pets, teachers, neighbours, local shopkeepers, members of parliament etc. 

That it’s written specifically for 9 – 11-year-olds, is the icing on the cake. These young people are at the age where difficult questions may bob to the surface and individual vulnerabilities – as well as acts of courage - are often borne or deepened. Digging Up Dad has protagonists in this age group and every one of them manages to make the world a better place, whether through intent or sheer luck. 

The exception to this is the story featuring a road bump, toy car and coat hanger as the main characters, and which has a young girl as an incidental, yet pivotal, background narrative. But that’s not important right now.

Gleitzman’s constancy, humour and energy mean that, as expected, each of these short stories is quite wonderful. Never preachy and only slightly earnest if you hold your tongue a certain way with your head at a specific angle in a strong northerly, this book nevertheless leaves you with a profound sense of feeling better about yourself.

I wish I could give you an example of my favourite story but I literally cannot. Whether it’s politicians behaving badly in chambers (yelling, pointing and swearing at each other) and then being given a stern talking to by their primary school teachers, or kids who set the house on fire and smash the precious family car while babysitting their twin cousins, you can’t actually shake the wonderful sense that you’re being taken on an epic journey by a master story-teller.

As a reader, there’s great comfort, gratitude and joy to be found in letting yourself fall into this space, and in allowing these optimistic stories to wash over you.

Brilliant. Hilarious. Uplifting. All at the same time.

Read all about Morris' 'secret friends' and how they inspire him in his illuminating Guest Post.

Title: Digging Up Dad – And Other Hopeful (And Funny) Stories
Author: Morris Gleitzman
Publisher: Puffin, $16.99
Publication Date: October 2022
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760890940
For ages: 9 -– 11
Type: Junior Fiction