A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is a graphic novel about a clueless 11-year-old boy who fancies himself a great detective. It's a funny, off-the-wall yet poignant look at the life of an unusual kid who's way longer on imagination than on ability to focus. The first children's book from Stephan Pastis, creator of the popular Pearls Before Swine comic strip and the bestselling Pearls compilation, Larry in Wonderland, it contains several instances of cartoon violence (Timmy being pelted by balls and Frisbees, a non-injury car crash), and Timmy lies to his mom on occasion.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Eleven-year-old Timmy Failure fancies himself the world's greatest detective. He's not. But he does have the world's laziest, most unusual business partner: a 1,500-pound polar bear named Total, which may or may not be a figment of Timmy's extremely offbeat, overactive imagination. In his attempts to solve cases involving missing Halloween candy or stolen shoes, Timmy -- head of the Total Failure detective agency -- loses his mom's Segway and blunders his way into a series of mishaps. He also fails to perform acceptably in school. The larger mystery becomes: How will Timmy recover the missing Segway, and can he improve his grades enough to keep from being held back a grade?
Is it any good?
There's a charm to this off-the-wall, slapstick graphic novel that makes it almost as poignant as it is funny. Timmy's (often self-created) problems and his long-suffering mother are realistic and touching; readers will worry about his grades and his blunders. On the whole, Stephen Pastis has created a sweet, hilarious set of oddball characters that will make readers crack up, and will help unusual kids feel "normal."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about graphic novels. Why do you think theyr'e so popular? What others have you read?
Some people have compared this book to Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. How is Timmy Failure like Wimpy Kid, and how is it different?
Read the author's Pearls Before Swine comic strip in the newspaper, and then try making your own comic.
- Author: Stephan Pastis
- Illustrator: Stephan Pastis
- Genre: Humor
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Candlewick Press
- Publication date: February 26, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love graphic novels and humor
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.