________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 5. . . .October 3, 2014


Tom Gates is Absolutely Fantastic (at Some Things). (Tom Gates).

Liz Pichon.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2014.
272 pp., trade pbk., $8.99.
ISBN 978-1-4431-3366-1.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Myra Junyk.

**** /4



“Haven’t you put your name down already?”

And I say “NO.”

“Didn’t you get the letter WEEKS ago about the trip?”

“Er, NO?”

“So I’m guessing your parents didn’t fill in the form or go to the meeting about the trip either?”

“No and no,” I say.

This is not sounding promising at all.


When Tom Gates gets his brand new Oakfield School PLANNER, he finds out that he has “accidentally” destroyed the permission form for the class activity trip! When he discovers he is one of the few people in his class not going on the trip, he is very upset. How will he solve this huge problem?

internal art     Although it takes Tom nearly a week to remember to bring in the form, he just makes the deadline for the class trip. Meanwhile, his busy life continues. At home, his obnoxious older sister Delia has become more mysterious because she now has a job, but she won’t tell anyone in the family where it is! Tom’s father is starting yet another fitness program. Tom’s mother asks him to go on an embarrassing trip to the grocery store with her.

     Despite all these minor annoyances, Tom is busy with his doodle book, his T-shirt design for the Dude 3 contest, and his plans for the school trip. When it seems that Tom has also missed the deadline to send in his T-shirt design, he is upset once again. However, he is soon preoccupied with the exciting events of the school trip. The trip to Tidy Camp is full of snacking, pranks, and group activities. Tom experiences camp life for the first time with its bunk beds, raft building and kayaking.

     Tom’s describes his “absolutely fantastic” life in his diary and doodle book where he comments on events at home and at school. Readers will discover that Tom is gradually growing up. He realizes that he “messed up” by not bringing in his permission form for the school trip. At camp, he realizes that talking all night makes you very tired the next day. There, he also discovers the value of teamwork. When he arrives back at home, he comes to appreciate his family more. His parents, aka “The Fossils”, and Delia all come through for him when he needs them, and he deeply appreciates their support.

     Doodling is the focus of Tom’s life. His doodle book gives readers insights into his family and his school activities as well as the ordinary frustrations of his middle school life. Readers will definitely be able to relate to his difficulties with filling in forms, participating in athletic activities and dealing with his annoying older sister.

     This is another book in the Tom Gates series which began with The Brilliant World of Tom Gates. Liz Pichon has once again captured the spirit of “absolutely fantastic” Tom Gates in her new novel filled with dynamic word art. The doodles will inspire kinesthetic learners who love to doodle while they are learning. Pichon has included an interesting glossary as well as instructions for creating monsters and banana doodles.

     Tom Gates is Absolutely Fantastic (at Some Things) is also a wonderful book to introduce before a class trip to stimulate discussion about upcoming activities. Tom learned a great deal during his class trip, but perhaps the most important lesson was, “It was a great trip, but it’s nice to be home!”

Highly Recommended.

Myra Junyk is a Toronto-based literacy advocate and author.

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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