Tom Gates is the master of excuses for late homework: dog attacks - spilt water - lightning... Tom's exercise book is full of his doodles and thoughts, as well as comments from his long-suffering teacher, Mr Fullerman.
From his penchant for doodling to his myopic self-interest, fifth-year student Tom Gates can easily be seen as a British cousin to Jeff Kinney's Greg Heffley. In Tom's first novel, published in the U.K. in 2011 (where it won a Waterstones Children's Book Prize and a Roald Dahl Funny Prize), he recounts his ongoing antagonism of his older sister, Delia; his attempts to see his favorite band, Dude3, perform in town; and various family and school-day mishaps, including a disastrous camping trip, inedible meals cooked by his grandparents (aka "the Fossils"), and joining the school choir. The book is typeset in a handwritten-looking font, accompanied by Tom's doodles and text that he's embellished for emphasis. A glossary explains the Briticisms Tom uses throughout: " Rumbled!' basically means I'm busted!' " explains a tiny cartoon of Tom's head it's a phrase he has reason to deploy more than once. Truly laugh-out-loud moments are few and far between, but readers who like their fiction heavily illustrated and their heroes mischievous should find it diverting enough. Ages 8 12.