Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

Personalized picks at your fingertips

Get the mobile app on iOS and Android

Parents' Guide to

Tom Gates Series

By Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Homework-dodging 10-year-old brings laughs, heart, doodles.

Tom Gates Series Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 10+

Really really poor role models and zero educational value.

These books are about the daily life of the child Tom Gates. They provide a very poor example for kids to grow. They are written to be funny and attractive, by using negative behaviours and pretending they are normal, by promoting a way of thinking that is toxic and by stigmatizing pretty much everyone in the family and school of the main character. Tom is a Tween that always arrives late to school, hates maths, calls his grandparents "The fossils", thinks his sister is extremely annoying and his parents are boring. Tom's classmates annoy him too, especially the ones that are good students. He also makes fun of his teachers and calls them names. To add the cherry on top of the cake, the books also promote consumerism and an unhealthy lifestyle. Big TVs, new clothes, BIG disco parties, high sugar food and drinks are always shown as desirable and even necessary. Not everything is absolutely horrible, there are some interesting and imaginative games displayed in the books here and there. Dancing and being part of a music band are definitely positive. The setup and the atmosphere of the books are so horrible that they make any good detail here and there completely irrelevant. I initially thought of giving these books two starts, but I think one star really is showing the reality of these books much better. Do not bother.
age 8+



Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (8 ):

Tom’s eye-catching illustrations on every page and the fun, doodle-filled text throughout make this a fast, engaging series for readers transitioning to longer chapter books, but it's so much more. The Tom Gates series will connect with any kid who's ever tried to get out of doing homework, dreamed up creative excuses why they aren’t turning it in, or wondered why they had to go to school when all they really wanted to do was their favorite hobby. The teacher’s patience for Tom’s written excuses is touching. He plays along with Tom, and in doing so gives Tom a trusted connection with an adult who gives him space to be himself while still maintaining high expectations for Tom and his work. It’s nice for readers to see that respect between teacher and student: Tom doesn’t push too far and never means to be truly bad, and the teacher knows that every child is different and gives kids room to be themselves.

Tom’s relationship with his sister Delia can get needlessly antagonistic – he goes out of his way to bother her – but he does it in with a grin, never meaning real harm. In short, Tom Gates is the reflection of many of the readers who hold these books.

Book Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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.

See how we rate