The Brilliant World of Tom Gates by L.Pichon

Tom Gates is the master of excuses for late homework: dog attacks, spilt water, lightening … Tom’s exercise book is full of his doodles, cartoons and thoughts, as well as comments from his long-suffering teacher, Mr Fullerton. After gaining five merits for his ‘Camping Sucks’ holiday story, Tom’s work starts to go downhill, which is a pity, as he’s desperate to impress Amy Porter, who sits next to him …

tom gates

We are always looking for Diary of a Wimpy Kid read-alikes, and The Brilliant World of Tom Gates does not disappoint.  Winner of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, this book is also written in diary format and includes illustrations, drawings, and different typesetting and fonts.   Although some children may not understand some of the British terms used, Pichon includes a handy glossary to explain words like biscuits, bonkers and dodgy.

Rather than focus on his ‘merits’, Tom spends much of his time thinking about his band and doodling.  To cover this up, he comes up with clever and creative excuses for why his homework isn’t done, like a leaking pen or dog drool.   I can practically hear young readers cracking up!  Personally, I had to laugh at Tom’s reference to his grandparents as ‘the fossils’ and his grandma’s very strange food combinations like a banana on a pizza!

The one issue I had was with Tom’s treatment of Marcus. I’m not sure what Marcus ever did to deserve being constantly teased. Tom writes ‘I’m an idiot’ on Marcus’ self-portrait and embarrasses him in front of the whole school.  Tom even puts temporary tattoos on Marcus’s face when he’s sleeping.  I felt bad for Marcus, and think Pichon didn’t have to include this form of bullying to obtain laughs.

Overall, a great funny and quick read for 7-12 year olds, especially reluctant readers.  The ‘Tom Gates’ series continues with Excellent Excuses (and other good stuff).

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