Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made
Written and Illustrated by Stephan Pastis
Timmy Failure is anything but. According to him, he is the founder, president and CEO of the best detective agency in town – no, make that the entire world. With his trusty business partner, his 1,500 pound pet polar bear named Total, they make up the brains and brawn behind his brilliant organization: Total Failure, Inc.
But it’s difficult to build a billion-dollar empire. He has to work out of his mom’s closet and he uses her Segway (a.k.a. the Failuremobile) to get around town. Mom had only one rule about using the Segway, which was to use it “Never. Ever. Ever.”
As Timmy tells his story, readers will quickly realize that he, in fact, can’t solve anything. He’s like a young Michael Scott from The Office, arrogant and clueless, yet somehow endearing. When Mom’s Segway goes missing, Timmy smells sabotage. He’s convinced his archrival, the One Whose Name Shall Not Be Uttered, had something to do with it. As Total busies himself with eating and napping, he has no choice but to enlist his idiot best friend, Rollo Tookus, to help him solve the case. If only Rollo spent less time studying and more time being like Timmy, he wouldn’t have ended up locked in a bank safe wearing a daisy costume. If only. In the end, all is restored and Timmy’s sweet side revealed, but not before he crashes a car into his teacher’s living room with a polar bear in the passenger seat. Just another day in Failure-land.
Pastis, the creator of the popular comic strip Pearls Before Swine, expertly uses his black and white illustrations to give comic punch to already absurd situations. A few of the vocabulary words will have kids at this reading level scratching their heads (expenditures, subterfuge, mendacity), but their appearance near drawings offers helpful context. Fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate will likely gobble up this book in one sitting. Fourth graders may also enjoy Timmy Failure’s own blog with cameo entries from his friends (http://www.failureisanoptionblog.tumblr.com) as well as the official book site, which includes author info, news, and games. (http://timmyfailure.com/index.html)