Monday 17 February 2014

Tom Gates Extra Special Treats (not)

Tom Gates Extra Special Treats (not) by L.Pichon (Scholastic Australia)
PB RRP $12.99
ISBN 978-1-74362-203-2
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Tom Gates Extra Special Treats (not) is the next instalment of the very funny series starring Tom Gates. In this story Tom really wants to be given the Star Pupil badge. Even though this means actually doing his homework, being on time and paying attention in class. High on Tom’s list of reasons for wanting the badge is that teachers will smile at him. Also, Marcus Meldrew has one, and the badge is permission to stay in the warm library at play time.

But as usual there are many distractions to lead Tom off course. The new neighbours move in and it is the girl who pulls faces. The Fossils – Granny Mavis and Granddad – are having their 50th Anniversary. Then the schools heating breaks down and everyone gets a day off school. Unfortunately so does Uncle Kevin’s so he, Auntie Alice and the cousins all come to stay.

Tom’s life is busy, always tilting on the edge of disaster, and so very funny. I laugh out loud when I’m reading these books. The humour is dry, sarcastic and not mean. It is full of all the little things in life, like throwing a snowball at your best friend who ducks so it hits a teacher, or games of rock, paper, scissors which do not go to plan.

I really love Tom’s family which includes Mum, Dad and Delia - Tom’s older sister; a grumpy teenager. The characters are realistic and relatable and could be living next door. And his best friend Derek and worst friend Marcus are well fleshed characters too, staying true from one book to the next. I think in future books Tom and Derek may start to hang out with new neighbour June, even though the relationship is a bit rocky at the moment – June, like Amy, hates Dude3, Tom’s favourite band.

With its great pictures - as much a part of the story as the text, short chapters, big and ever-changing font, and young characters, Tom Gates is targeted at the beginner reader market, 8 years plus. But I know many older readers who get a great giggle from it. I am one of them. Buy it for the young reader in your life, but read it quickly first before you pass it on. It’s short, light and very, very fun.

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