What we’re reading: Baby’s First Bank Heist by Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins

Have you ever looked at your baby and wondered what he is thinking?

Perhaps he is concentrating very carefully on doing a massive poo?

Or maybe behind that sweet little face hides the brain of an evil genius plotting to take over the world…?

The latter has definitely crossed my mind when my baby boys have been deep in thought, probably inspired by watching too much Family Guy or the 1980s classic Look Who’s Talking.

Now the concept has been taken to a hilarious and wacky level by Baby’s First Bank Heist, the debut picture book by Jim Whalley.

The story centres on Baby Frank, an animal-loving lad who robs a bank in order to buy the pet his parents refuse to get him.

His innocent baby face is the perfect disguise as he crawls under laser beams and past security cameras in a black and white stripy onesie, making off with his loot in a buggy on the bus.

His crimes don’t stop there however. After purchasing a meerkat online, which hide out in his bedroom, Frank dabbles in a bit of exotics smuggling, adding everything from a snake to a giraffe to his menagerie.

It’s only when he stashes a rhino in the shed that his suspicious parents discover his deceit and realise their supposedly innocent baby is a cunning thief.

Naturally, they insist on coming clean and turn Frank into the authorities, only to discover the cash is all spent and all that’s left is a zoo’s worth of animals. And this becomes the solution to right Frank’s wrong, ensuring everyone is happy – including the bemused readers.

There’s a lovely flow to this book, thanks to the razor-sharp rhyme by Whalley, the outrageous plot twists and the equally amusing artwork by illustrator and cartoonist Stephen Collins.

The images very much enhance the humour – I particularly love the advert for a film called The Getaway on the side of the double decker bus as Frank makes his escape with the cash. His innocent expression throughout is wonderful too.

Baby Bookworm finds the whole thing highly amusing, regularly telling me that “Frank is a naughty baby” – reassuring to know, as I don’t fancy him going into robbery as a line of work.

The beauty of this book is that is it very funny without ever feeling like it is trying – a hugely difficult task and no doubt one of the reasons why it has been nominated for the Lollies Laugh Out Loud Book Awards 2020, celebrating the funniest kids books.

If you love Baby Frank too, you can vote for it here and we’ve also got a brilliant interview with Jim Whalley.

Baby’s First Bank Heist by Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins. £6.99 (paperback), Bloomsbury. Available to buy from Amazon


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