Review: Tom Gates is absolutely Fantastic! by Liz Pichon

The Brilliant World of Tom Gates is the new series by L. Pichon being put out by Scholastic.

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I came across the first book in the series a few days ago while moseying around the Scholastic stand at the London Book Fair. There were little illustrated cupcakes and signed copies of Tom Gates… Is Absolutely Fantastic and, amidst everyone being incredibly friendly, I was urged by the lovely Alana (from the American office) to pick up a copy.

I did, and I loved what I found! And I’m not the only one! So far, the Tom Gates books have won:

The Roald Dahl Funny prize 2011

The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2012

The Red House Children’s Book Prize 2012

Blue Peter Award for Best Story

and the World Book Day Prize 2013

imagesPhew.

So its fair to say Scholastic are onto a winner here, but what’s so special about this doodle-ridden book for readers aged 8-12?

This book feels like a conversation with a friend and is like nothing else I’ve ever read before.  Loaded with drawings, jokes and thoughts, Tom Gates … Is Absolutely Fantastic does away with  the traditional chapter structure altogether and delivers such a cheeky, interesting kind of humour that you find yourself smiling as you turn the pages.

Interspersed between Tom’s thoughts are simple drawings which feel realistic and as familiar as those you drew in your own journals (while also managing to be unbelievably expressive). After a while, the doodles achieve what subtitles in a really great foreign-language film manage: to disappear into (and accentuate) the storytelling. I’m speaking Tom Gates’ language!

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This is without a doubt the best and most original take on the ‘diary style’ book that I’ve seen in a long time. Tom Gates is a smart, creative and fun main character– one that is making the most of the straight-up happiness that comes before sullen teenage-hood.

Every bit as weird as a boy’s mind really is and every bit as fun and inviting as you could hope a book to be: Tom Gates really is absolutely fantastic!

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The Pin board for this should be really fun to add to as the series gains even more momentum! Here it is so far:

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