Yes! No (Maybe...) (Tom Gates) by Liz Pichon

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Yes! No (Maybe...) (Tom Gates) by Liz Pichon

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: The huge-selling series shows no signs of stopping soon, with this saga of business-like battling against misfortune.
Buy? MAYBE Borrow? YES
Pages: 272 Date: May 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781407143194

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Work. It's not something Tom Gates has been guilty of much before now – unless it's to work out how and where to hide his favourite caramel wafers, or how to deflect the evil grin of his slightly goth older sister. But it's on the cards this time round – not only does his mother have the inspired idea of clearing the house out for a car boot sale (which causes disasters) the school is having an enterprise competition, where groups of students have to create something to sell on to their peers at a profit. But it's not like Tom wants much – of course, he's a simple lad, with no real desires as such – he's never going to want to go hell for leather to get anything, is he?

The irony in that paragraph is that of course Tom can work very hard when he wants to – the first entry in this diary regarding one day in his life covers all of fifty pages and more. It's scattered as before with asides, design regarding each and every stressed word, each and every speaker when dialogue comes along, doodles – no way would any kid either write this much about any one day, nor would he dress it up in such a fashion. But that falsity regardless there is a lot of truth in the series – Tom is always a fun, enjoyable companion with his permanently feeling put upon, eternal small-scale trouble at school, constant bickering regarding his sister… His books, for all these reasons, just fly off the shelves, either paperback or hardback, and generally have a lot of appeal – surely breaking away from the mere reluctant reader market to appeal to a lot more literary and literate youngsters.

I did however feel that a little magic was missing from this edition in the series, and unfortunately that's not the first time I could say that. I can't say I found a heck of a lot to laugh at, from my point of view, unlike before. Even A Tiny Bit Lucky was humorous, if rather too slapdash in plot for me. Here I think the plotting is more concise – there is a great narrative drive to be had from the build-up to the car boot sale, and of course a lesser one for the school business scheme (it is, after all, school-related, and of course it's going to creep up on someone like Tom unawares). It's just even when there is a sting in the tail or witty and most realistic inter-family bantering, I wasn't laughing.

Perhaps I'm just getting old – I'm certainly above the age range of Liz Pichon's books. I'm sure certain Internet retailers will by now be flooded with reviews from the more with-it young, all alongside five shiny yellow stars. But I can only speak as I find, and I did find this read a little lacking. The theme of earning, profiting, finding surprise presents and building a stronger family – through work – is a great one, and is really quite undersold when written down as a blunt moral, but the read-only reminded me of the great entertainment I used to get from this series.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Liz Pichon's Tom Gates Books in Chronological Order

Demolition Dad by Phil Earle and Sara Ogilvie sounded like the start of a good new series to us.

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