The winner of the 2011 Roald Dahl Funny Prize for readers ages 7 to 11 makes its way across the pond.
In this British contribution to the Wimpy Kid bandwagon, Tom doodles his school days away, fails to do his homework, schemes to get the upper hand on twit Marcus Meldrew, tries to attract the attention of lovely Amy Porter, jockeys for tickets to the Dude3 concert, designs logos for his band, DogZombies, and annoys his older sister, Delia. His account is set in a typeface named for the author (generated from her handwriting, perhaps?) and is liberally illustrated with Tom’s cartoons and doodles. Some of his artistic tics are pretty funny: When he refers to his teacher’s gaze, he adds two little eyeballs as visual punctuation; goth Delia’s expression hardly ever changes, even when she’s feeling “jolly”; particularly embarrassing moments are labeled “shame” with little arrows. The book has been unevenly Americanized, leaching from it some of its potential distinctiveness. Most insultingly, “Mum” is now “Mom,” but some terms found in the glossary such as “biscuit” and “jumper” have been translated in the text as “cookie” and “sweater,” rendering those entries rather baffling. Although Tom’s account is diarylike, it is undated, making it feel like the book’s action is much shorter than the school term it evidently spans.
Tom may be brilliant, but he’s unlikely to unseat Greg Heffley in American hearts. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-11)