cover image Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

Stephan Pastis. Candlewick, $14.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6050-5

Mysteries abound in the first children’s book from Pastis, creator of the comic strip Pearls Before Swine. Who stole the Halloween candy of Timmy’s classmate Gabe? Who is the mysterious girl Timmy refuses to discuss? Why is no one fazed that Timmy has a pet polar bear named Total? Fortunately, Timmy is an aspiring detective, who believes his agency, Total Failure Inc. (“We won’t fail, despite what the name says”), is “on the verge of being a Fortune 500 company.” Unfortunately, Timmy is a terrible sleuth, who doesn’t leap to the wrong conclusions so much as cannonball into a swimming pool full of them. His narration reveals an impressive command of business-speak (he doesn’t talk with his single mother—he teleconferences), while the wide-eyed characters resemble a cross between the work of George Booth and Sara Varon. Pastis has assembled an eccentric and funny cast (running gags revolve around Total’s voracious appetite and a librarian who looks like one of the Hells Angels), yet there are also touching interactions to be found, particularly between Timmy and his mother. Ages 8–12. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Feb.)