cover image The Brilliant World of Tom Gates

The Brilliant World of Tom Gates

Liz Pichon. Candlewick, $12.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7472-4

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. Agent: Caroline Walsh, David Higham Associates. (Aug.)