Tom Gates: A Tiny Bit Lucky by L. Pichon
Published by Scholastic UK
I got my first introduction to the popularity of the Tom Gates series when I attended a literary lunch for primary school students. A Tom Gates prize pack was up for grabs and the audience went wild. And reading this book (7th in the series) I can see why. Tom Gates is a very ordinary, very likeable and creative rascal who enjoys playing in a band (called Dog-zombies) with his mates, eating pizza, and caramel wafer biscuits – so how lucky is he that he gets to enter a band competition, his school is having a make-your- own –pizza day, and he gets to sneak a few caramel wafer biscuits on the side? All of this is happening during a week when the school inspectors are prowling around, ensuring that Tom has his fair share of mishaps and happenstances that sometimes turn out to be lucky – or not - but are guaranteed to be amusing. Primary aged kids will cringe and laugh in recognition of Tom’s true to life circumstances.
Tom lives with his authentically groan-worthy yet loving parents. He and his sister annoy each other, but she can be helpful when it counts. He has a couple of good buddies, an annoying neighbour (complete with cat) and a nemesis at school. There is warmth to all the characters (including the school teacher and inspector) which made reading this book feel like spending time with good friends.
Tom loves doodling as we can see right from the dazzling psychedelic cover and every single page inside adorned with doodles. The book is in the format of an informal journal. Tom records the rough and tumble of his everyday life by doodling, sketching and embellishing the text. He illustrates how lucky he feels at various turns of events by drawing quirky rating meters, like the ‘lucky meter.’
An abundant use of different text types keeps the writing interesting and fresh. This book is packed with comic strips, letters, invitations, shopping list, recipes, homework diary, instructions on how to make a kite, and a fabulous fiction book with a great twist that the teacher reads to the class.
Although the author/illustrator is British, the characters, events and themes translate seamlessly to the Australian context. What I particularly like about this book is the undercurrent of positivity (I don’t know whether the other books in the series share this feel). There is a subtle notion of ‘count your blessings’ in the bits of luck that come Tom’s way – it’s not at all preachy, but gives a feel-good vibe.
At the end of the book the reader is directed to an Interactive website. The creators have teamed up with Crayola to provide a prize for ‘Australia’s Number 1 doodler’.
There is something in Tom Gates for everyone – it is guaranteed to tempt even fussy readers.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author & Illustrator: L. Pichon
Title: Tom Gates: A Tiny Bit Lucky
Publisher: Scholastic UK
Published: May 2014