While having a 11-year-old niece is a blessed advantage, being in constant touch with an eleven-year-old niece who is an inveterate book worm, is a boon! Over the past few days, Annika has made it her objective to introduce me to a phalanx of some compelling children’s books penned by ingenious authors. For a reader whose concept of books for kids has not crossed the periphery of Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Dr. Seuss and C.S.Lewis, this has been a period of revelation!
The latest addition to my burgeoning enlightenment has been Liz Pichon and her hilarious Tom Gates series. Tom Gates Spectacular School Trip (Really). The really within parenthesis, I assure you is not made-up stuff. Tom Gates, a bundle of creative energy is in Class 5F of the Oakfield School. A part of the school rock band Dogzombies, along with Norman and Derek, Tom when at class is sandwiched between the extraordinarily benevolent and magnanimous Amy, and the perpetually irritating and sadistic, Marcus. Tom also has this incredible proclivity to get on the wrong side of luck. Whether it be getting his homework chewed away by Rooster, an egregious dog, or inadvertently giving his Mum’s vintage dress a ‘doodle’ image, Tom always finds himself at the short end of his teacher, Mr. Fuller’s stick. Having already accumulated 3 ‘sad faces’, Tom is just one sad face away from not being on the school excursion bus to a biscuit factory.
To add to a cascading litany of woes, Tom’s Dad takes Tom, Amy and Derek to what he thinks is the school’s new ‘Doodle Wall’ only to realise upon hindsight that the children have liberally heaped graffiti on a private wall. One of the images being a distorted and unenviable image of Delia, Tom’s stern sister.
Would these lapses lead to Tom being omitted from the school excursion? Is there any way Tom can ‘atone’ for his misadventures, if not misdeeds, and redeem himself? The 2012 winner of the Best Book for Younger Readers Red House Children’s Book Award, , Liz Pinchon does a capital job with the plot, narrative and sequence. Tom Gates is equally endearing and enervating. With a bunch of effervescent and egregious friends, every day in Gates’ young life is a life of mystery, mystique and mischief.
Tom Gates Spectacular School Trip (Really) – a trip of pure joy – no parenthesis needed!