________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 32. . . .April 24, 2015


Extra Special Treats (Not). (Tom Gates).

Liz Pichon.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2015.
221 pp., trade pbk., $8.99.
ISBN 978-1-4431-3934-2.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Myra Junyk.

**** /4



Tom, if you put as much EFFORT into your homework as you have into your doodles, you’ll be well on the way to becoming a STAR PUPIL.

Mr. Fullerman


Tom Gates is determined to become the Star Pupil in his class for the very first time! Mr. Fullerman chooses pupils for this honour every term, and they get to wear the special “Star Pupil” badge. This term, Tom Gates “really” wants to be a Star Pupil. He wants to beat Marcus Meldrew at something!

      On the way home with his best friend Derek, Tom scares his reclusive and moody teenage sister Delia which causes her to break her cell phone. Once again, Tom is to blame! At home, the Fossils (their grandparents Bob and Mavis) are coming to babysit. They provide lots of amusement for Tom and Delia. Mavis does “serious knitting” while Bob plays the Memory Game with Tom. While discussing what Dad and Uncle Kevin were like when they were children, Tom discovers that he is not the first member of his family to get into mischief!

     Tom’s school life echoes his family life. There is always something exciting going on, and Tom loves to be in the middle of the action. This is going to be a very special year at home because their grandparents are celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Uncle Kevin has a special surprise for them – a family photograph! Will Tom be able to keep a straight face? At school, there is a snowstorm, and Tom draws a massive doodle of Mr. Fullerman in the new snow. Will he get caught? Will he ever become the Star Pupil?

     The first book in Liz Pichon’s Tom Gates series, The Brilliant World of Tom Gates, was published in 2011 and won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize 2011. It was followed by Tom Gates: Excellent Excuses (and Other Good Stuff) in September 2011, Tom Gates: Everything’s Amazing (Sort Of) in March 2012, Tom Gates: Genius Ideas (Mostly) in September 2012, and Tom Gates is Absolutely Fantastic (at Some Things) in 2014. Pichon lives in England with her family, and as a result, her Tom Gates novels use slang vocabulary common in England which may be confusing for some readers. In order to compensate for this, there is a glossary of terms at the end of the novel.

     Once again, Liz Pichon has captured the spirit of middle-graders with their doodling, competitiveness, awkwardness, and enthusiasm. Tom and his school friends are constantly in action: doing assignments, passing notes, and throwing snowballs. The doodle book format allows Pichon to integrate exciting graphic elements into the text as she tracks both the mundane and exciting moments of Tom’s fifth grade life! Readers learn about characters and events through Tom’s doodles while adults gain insight into the learning style of kinesthetic learners who love to doodle while they are learning.

Highly Recommended.

Myra Junyk, a literacy advocate and author, lives in Toronto, ON..

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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ISSN 1201-9364
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