Barry Loser: I am not a Loser by Jim Smith

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Barry Loser: I am not a Loser by Jim Smith

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The cartoon-and-text format in the style of Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates could well be the encouragement a reluctant reader needs.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: June 2012
Publisher: Egmont
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1405260312

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Barry Loser has never minded his name because he's always known that his coolness (orkeelness as he would say) cancelled it out. But then Darren Darrenofski joined the school and he's been making Barry's life a misery about it ever since. Barry tells us about his life, in his own words (helpfully spell checked by Jim Smith) and with some drawings (well, lots of drawings) to ensure that we know exactly what he's talking about. There's his teacher, Mr Hodgepodge (or Hedgehog as his Gran will call him), the gang of girls in his class, his family and his best mate, Bunky. Along with a few of his inventions and a talent contest they make for quite an exciting time.

It's a book that's going to be enjoyed by boys in the six-to-eight age range and it could well be the encouragement that the reluctant reader needs to get them going. Despite the 240 pages it's actually a very quick read (I read it in about an hour) because of the amount of space taken up by Barry's drawings. It's effectively a series of short stories so the emerging reader can have the pride of having got one under his belt fairly quickly - and a whole book before he's realised that he's actually done it.

Whilst I was reading I couldn't help thinking about Tom Gates and in the ensuing scrap Barry Loser, er, lost. Even allowing for the similarity of format (lots of picture and minimal text) Tom is a more rounded character and - more importantly to me - he's a nicer boy. Barry can be very unkind, both in written word and deed and doesn't always get his comeuppance. He and Bunky enjoy annoying a single parent who lives in a nearby flat and his Granny Harumpadunk is a stereotype: can't hear, can't see, really slow at walking says the caption on Barry's drawing. The girls in school are all silly and shallow and Mr Hodgepodge is something of a scaredy cat.

I know - it's a book for kids and boys in this age range are not big on subtlety, but it would have been good to see a bit of balance. The stories are going to appeal to the boys - farts, bogeys and the unfortunate incident of the wet pants abound and it might just be the thing to prove that this reading lark is actually good fun. I just wish that Granny had used her stick as an offensive weapon once or twice!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

The publishing success for this age group is Wimpy Kid but we've always thought that Mr Gum was the star of the show.

Buy Barry Loser: I am not a Loser by Jim Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Barry Loser: I am not a Loser by Jim Smith at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Barry Loser: I am not a Loser by Jim Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Barry Loser: I am not a Loser by Jim Smith at Amazon.com.


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