Tom Gates is Absolutely Fantastic (at some things) by Liz Pichon

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Tom Gates is Absolutely Fantastic (at some things) by Liz Pichon

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: Tom Gates go on a school trip, with comic results.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: April 2013
Publisher: Scholastic
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1407134512

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The Tom Gates books follow a rapidly-becoming-familiar diary format with plenty of childlike doodles for illustrations. They follow the life a very ordinary boy. In this particular book, Tom faces everyday issues common to most children from family embarrassment, minor complaints about school and a three day school activity trip. Tom gets into difficulties due to forgetfulness, day dreams a lot and spends time with his best friend. There are plenty of jokes throughout, which children will relate to as most will face these issues, but in all honesty I found the book too ordinary. I didn't feel there was enough excitement to really interest a child, I wasn't terribly impressed by the artwork and I found the odd style of print distracting - but what do I know? After all, this book was not intended for middle aged mothers, it was intended for children, and while I was an expert at choosing just the right books for my son while he was younger, he has developed his own tastes as he has grown older and finding just the right books to keep his passion for reading alive has become more of a challenge. If I were reviewing this book based only on my experience of reading it - the resulting rating would be fairly low, but instead, I am trying to see this book through my sons eyes, and he really enjoyed it.

When I asked my son why he liked this book, he immediately pointed out the unusual print which looks like a child's artistic impression of letters. This is one of the things I disliked, but he felt it added to the book. He also really enjoyed the illustrations. I have found my son gets so much more out of a book with any illustrations at all, and this seems to be a common feature with boys. He found the book very easy to read, and he does enjoy a non challenging book at times just to relax with, very much the same way I once enjoyed relaxing with a child's comic book. To him, this book is a great way to unwind and enjoy some light entertainment. I may have my complaints with the book, but I'm delighted to see him choose a book as light entertainment instead of a television programme.

I did feel this book was too ordinary, the jokes are funny, but not unlike things that happen everyday in the average family. Then again, I'm sure part of the humour comes from the fact that we could all too easily see ourselves in the same situation. This familiarity seems to be exactly what my son likes about the books. He enjoys books of heroes and superheroes, the strange and unusual, but he also seems to very much enjoy reading about an ordinary boy, not so terribly different from himself.

One thing I did like about the book was the author's inclusion of games many children no longer play today. The idea of making a fort in the garden with old quilts, or playing battleship on paper, although in this case it was more of a monster battleship game, is familiar to my children simply because I love these types of games, but may give many children new ideas for good old fashioned fun. I liked that Tom was basically polite, well mannered and a good friend. I didn't really like that he called his Grandparents The Fossils, but at least he appears loving and well mannered. I also like that while he and his sister share quite a bit of sibling rivalry, his sister comes through for him in the end, showing the importance of family. In short, he is basically a good, well behaved child - which is nice sometimes.

I've decided to let my son rate this. After all he is the target audience for the book. He did enjoy the book, and would like to read the rest of the series, but it hasn't quite made it up there with his very favourites, so he is giving this 4½ stars. My son is 8. I feel this would best suit ages 7 -12. The text is large, well spaced and broken up into easy to read chunks with illustration, but I do feel the artistic lettering may make this more difficult for children with reading difficulties. While my son very much enjoyed the busy appearance of the pages with letters of all shapes and sizes and illustrations throughout, this might be confusing for a struggling reader, so I would recommend this for children at least beginning to develop some confidence with text.

If this book appeals then you might like to try The Brilliant World of Tom Gates also by Liz Pichon and Rodrick Rules (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) by Jeff Kinney.

Buy Tom Gates is Absolutely Fantastic (at some things) by Liz Pichon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tom Gates is Absolutely Fantastic (at some things) by Liz Pichon at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Tom Gates is Absolutely Fantastic (at some things) by Liz Pichon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tom Gates is Absolutely Fantastic (at some things) by Liz Pichon at Amazon.com.


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