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: We Meet Again is the third in the popular comic graphic series by Stephan Pastis, creator of the nationally syndicated comic strip Pearls Before Swine. It's full of genuinely good-hearted kids and adults -- though Timmy seems morally rudderless. Thoughtful readers will pick up on clues as to why Timmy behaves so poorly. And if they don't, Timmy's supposed archrival points it out bluntly: He's lonely. He desperately wants to be appreciated, and he worries about anything coming between him and his mother, whether it's a sleepover or her latest boyfriend. The story tackles complicated issues, particularly school-wide rumors about plagiarism. Timmy's mom dates two men who play large roles in Timmy's life, and the story touches on her frustration at work. Timmy shares an unexpected kiss with a classmate, and he encounters his mom kissing her date. A few fat jokes involve an overweight friend who likes snacks and breaks something by sitting on it. The publisher recommends this series for ages 8 and up, but we recommend 10 and older because of the vocabulary and nuanced themes.
What's the story?
Timmy Failure is poised for greatness, certain he's on the brink of becoming the biggest name in international detective work. Achieving greatness would be easier if he wasn't on academic probation, with a hard-nosed principal just waiting for him to mess up. And if his mother wasn't making him play baseball -- and dating his coach. And if he didn't have to do a massive nature project with his archrival. He'd solve all these problems, however, if he could get his hands on the legendary Miracle Report, a nature project that earned an A+++++. It would secure his position as the greatest detective ever … and perhaps he could save his grade.
Is it any good?
TIMMY FAILURE: WE MEET AGAIN stands out in a crowded field of funny graphic novels targeted to boys by infusing the story with moving, tender touches. It's very funny, full of clever jokes and outrageous scenarios, and enjoyable to read. But there's more going on here: Timmy propels himself through life (often riding on his mom's Roomba) with little consideration for others, and it's remarkable to see how much classmates and adults in his life try to connect with him. Author-cartoonist Stephen Pastis deploys a subtlety that's lacking in other books in this genre -- Timmy may be the star here, but the people around him are living their own stories, and Pastis offers glimpses into their struggles and successes.
Like Greg in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and Nate in the Big Nate books, Timmy isn't always a likable hero: He's rude to friends and mean to imagined enemies, and he strives to be the center of attention. He creates conflict where there is none. Sensitive kids may understand and relate to his sometimes odd behavior. Pastis reveals the vulnerability beneath Timmy's prickly persona, offering a lesson in empathy amid the engaging humor.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Timmy behaves the way he does, bragging and being hostile and insistent on doing things his way. Do you think he's a good kid or just trouble?
What would you do if you came across the Miracle Report? Parents might want to read our article on high-tech cheating in schools.
- Author: Stephan Pastis
- Illustrator: Stephan Pastis
- Genre: Humor
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publication date: October 28, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 272
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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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.