Review Detail

Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0

Beware of parents in bike shorts!

There are few things in Tom's life that are NOT made better by caramel wafer biscuits, and after he sees his sister Delia without her sunglasses, it makes him crave them desperately. He's late for school and completely off his game, especially since he also sees his dad in a pair of bright blue biking shorts. Delia soon returns to her sullen and hidden ways, but his dad takes up exercise and frequently threatens to embarrass him by showing up in his exercise kit! When Tom finally makes his way to school, he runs afoul of Mr. Fullerman, is late, and suffers lots of humiliation, but nothing so sever it can't be remedied by snacks. He and Derek are still interested in Dude3, a band, and also play in their own attempt at a musical group. With Sports Day approaching, Tom is very concerned that every thing will go well and that his parents will not manage to make a mess of it.

Good Points
This notebook novel, with its hand drawn font and copious illustrations, will be an instant hit with readers who have liked Pastis' Timmy Failure, Stanton's Funny Kid and Barnett's Mac B.: Spy Kid books. Pichon's books have an even greater number of illustrations, and the interweaving of text and pictures is particularly engaging. The bright covers definitely add to the appeal.

Like Kalicky's My Life in Smiley or Berger's Lyttle Lies, this gives an excellent overview of what it is like to live and go to school in another country. Tom's day, the way his friends interact, and the things that interest him are all very familiar, but also a bit different. Biscuits, especially the caramel wafer kind, do not take up NEARLY enough of the day of the average US middle school student. I also like how grandparents appear more as a matter of course in books set across the pond.
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