says Imogen Russell Williams of David Walliams
From the perspective of a children’s-book maven, his dominance is slightly dispiriting. The heartwarming playfulness of his debut seems to have dissipated long ago in a cloud of “Oh, publish”, his status as a surreal champion of the outsider lessened by his metamorphosis into a sales phenomenon. Characters such as the omnipresent Raj, the shopkeeper obsessed with flogging gone-off sweets at inflated prices, are enormously popular with children, but feel more stereotypical with every repetition; the cast of The Midnight Gang are sketchily drawn, no longer the people “in the real world, with real emotions”, that Walliams set out to create. He is justly celebrated for enchanting reluctant readers, especially boys – but it is hard not to feel now that they would benefit from more matter with fewer fart jokes.