Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

Book Review: Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephen Pastis

Image shows Timmy Failure and his Polar bear in the car which Timmy has just driven through the wall of the wrong neighbor's house.

Image from prologue of Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephen Pastis.

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links to Bookshop.org, an online bookstore that provides financial support to local, independent bookstores. By the time I wrote this post, Bookshop.org had already raised $15.3m for local bookstores. If you use the links in this post to purchase a book or two on Bookshop.org, I’ll earn a commission on your book purchase, as will your preferred independent bookshop. You can also find these books in the new Caterpickles Bookstore. Regardless of whether you use my links or visit the Caterpickles Bookstore, I’m glad you spent part of your day reading Caterpickles. Learn more about Affiliate Links, the Caterpickles Bookstore, and why I decided to become a Bookshop.org Affiliate.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephen Pastis

Genre: Middle Grade

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Year Published: 2015

Format: Hardback

Source: Purchase

My Rating: ☕️☕️☕️

Book Summary: Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

“Take Timmy Failure–the clueless, comically self-confident CEO of the best detective agency in town, perhaps even the nation. Add his impressively lazy business partner, a very large polar bear named Total, and what you have is Total Failure, Inc. From the offbeat creator of Pearls Before Swine comes an endearingly bumbling hero in a hilarious caper accompanied by a whodunit twist. With perfectly paced visual humor, Stephan Pastis gets readers snorting with laughter, then slyly carries the joke a beat further–or sweetens it with an unexpected poignant moment–making this a comics-inspired story that truly stands apart from the pack.”

From the book description on Bookshop.org

My Review: ☕️☕️☕️

Like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney and the Captain Underpants series from Dav Pilkey, this book makes effective use of frequent, humorous illustrations to create an accessible reading experience that bridges the gap between picture books and chapter books for readers still building their confidence.

And while there are times when the only option is to roll your eyes, there are also genuinely funny moments. As well as some surprisingly poignant ones, such as when Timmy matter of factly explains that it’s important for his detective agency to succeed so that he can help his financially strapped mom pay the bills.

This excerpt from the Timmy Failure website does a much better job of conveying the experience of reading these books than I can do with words alone.

Image shows a page from the prologue to Timmy Failure: Mistakes were made. 
Text reads: "A Prologue that Story-wise is Out of Order. It's harder to drive a polar bear into somebody's living room than you'd think. You need a living room window that's big enough to fit a polar bear. And you need a polar bear that's big enough not to point out your errors. Like the fact that you've driven into the wrong house. Which, when it comes to cars in living rooms, is bad. I should back up. (The story. Not the car.)"

This text is accompanied by an image of a boy behind the wheel of a car far too large for him, with a polar bear in the passenger seat. Around the car is the wreckage of the living room wall that he's just driven through. The car looks surprisingly unscathed.
Excerpt from Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, via the Timmy Failure website. Although I’ve only reproduced the prologue here, the full excerpt includes Chapters 1-4 as well. It’s really quite a generous sample, and should be more than enough to decide whether you (or your reader) will enjoy the book.

So why only three teacups?

There are many things to love about this book, but the way Timmy treats his friends is not one of them. He’s frequently cruel in speaking to and about them. So if your child does dive into these books, it may be worth reading at least one along with them, so that you can have a conversation about more effective and kinder ways of dealing with their sometimes annoying but otherwise likable friends.

What about you?

What have you been reading lately?

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