Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done by Stephan Pastis, is the second in a series about Timmy Failure, the first of which is Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made. My son read the first book on our summer holiday earlier in the year and loved it. When he had to pick a new book to read in school recently he snapped up the sequel ‘Now Look What You’ve Done’, and we’ve spent the last two weeks reading it together.
If your child/class are the sort to love Dork Diaries, Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates, they will love Timmy Failure. It is basically the same formula. A kind of diary, written by the hero/heroine, in this case Timmy Failure. It has the same kind of layout, few words on a page, short chapters, and lots of black and white illustrations, and it is very funny.
It continues the story of Timmy Failure, the greatest detective of his generation and genius child. Except that he is not the greatest detective and his inability to fathom out even the simplest of things is one of the long running jokes of the series. Timmy is accompanied by his pet polar bear Total, who is his business partner, and his friend Rollo Tookus, as well as a rich array of strange and wonderful characters who add to the joy of the book.
So far, so good.
I have to say that I love this book. I love it better even than Tom Gates, and regular readers will know how much affection I have for the Tom Gates series. Timmy Failure is much more amusing to me.
There is a but.
The language in Timmy Failure is rich and complex. I love this about it, and it has pushed my son to new heights in terms of learning and using new vocabulary. We have read at least ten pages every night, and I would estimate that I have had to explain at least ten phrases or words, if not more, every night.
Timmy uses words like; mendacity, shenanigans, sanctity,nemesis, respite and analogy to name but a few. He also uses lots of phrases and vernacular expressions, along with puns and word play which will only really make sense to you if you have access to a very rich linguistic background.
It’s not to say that the book won’t be funny without knowing these things, but that you will miss at least 75% of the content if you haven’t got the means to figure it out.
I would recommend this book, therefore, to children aged 8 to 12 who have a very strong grasp of literacy, and who you feel are very fluent, and/or able to figure out what is happening and use a dictionary or Google if not. For other children who you think would enjoy it, and I know lots myself, but who will struggle, I suggest it as a guided reader or reciprocal reader in class, or as a bed time story.