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Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis is the first book in the Timmy Failure series, of which the second, Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done, has been reviewed on this site.


My children are absolutely nuts about these books, and devour them as soon as they get hold of them. They then get passed around from child to child until the pages are practically falling out.

They’re very much in the same vein as the Wimpy Kid, and Tom Gates’ series of books. Short chapters, diary type entries, first person narrative, lots of illustrations in cartoon form.

I enjoy the Timmy Failure books slightly more than the other series however, because these are very clever linguistically. Each chapter is a play on words, and is clearly in there for the adults who might be reading along, as some of the allusions are far too sophisticated for the average child reader. They tickle me pink, and when I’m reading the book with my son, they give us a good five minute chat at the start of each chapter talking about where the title comes from.

More so in the second book, but present here, are some great vocabulary improving words that will really test a child’s ability to figure out what is going on. One of Timmy’s favourite words, for example, is Mendacity. Which is splendid.

In this book we are introduced to Timmy and the cast of characters who populate his life; his polar bear, Total; his mom; his best friend Rollo Tookus, and his nemesis, Corrina Corrina, who is ‘the evil one’ or as Timmy names her; ‘weevil bun’.

Timmy is terribly misunderstood. He cannot figure out why his mother won’t fund his attempts to take his detective agency to a global market, or why his teacher doesn’t recognise his genius, or why Corrina Corrina gets more detective cases than he does.

This last issue is painfully illustrated by Timmy’s total incompetence at figuring out even the simplest of cases, and refusing to see that his complex, frankly bonkers and paranoid solutions to all his cases are way off base. This leads to some wonderful scenes with Molly Moskins, the girl who smells of tangerines, and who loves Timmy, but who Timmy is convinced is an evil,criminal mastermind.

The book is very, very silly, and hugely entertaining. I highly recommend it for confident readers, both boys and girls, aged seven and up, and for parents who are desperate to read something to children which tickles their funny bones too.