Last year, at the start of the summer holidays, I discovered (and reviewed) the first two Timmy Failure books by Stephan Pastis. (Click through to read my review.) After laughing at the fact that the author's name is a famous French brand of booze, then asking why he (Timmy, not the author, though that could be true too - I've never seen a photo of him !) hasn't got a mouth, the Madhouse kids turned to the first page and were instantly hooked. Remembering this, I was delighted to learn that book 4 had been released in paperback at the start of the summer, so we caught up on the lovable loser's latest adventures. An eight-hour drive down to see the grandparents in Brittany disappeared without hearing a peep out of them, so it was definitely a case of Timmy Success for me !
In the very first book, Mistakes Were Made, we were introduced to Timmy Failure, who has no idea of just how hopeless he is. Along with his trusty sidekick, a (possibly imaginary) polar bear called Total, he sets up a detective agency, but doesn't actually manage to solve any cases !
In book 2, Now Look What You've Done, Timmy's school puts on a detective competition, giving him the chance to prove his greatness ... or not !
Book 3, We Meet Again, was released at the start of the year, and sees Timmy being told by the principal that he will be allowed to come back to school, but he will be closely monitored and this is his last chance so he'd better not mess up. What could possibly go wrong ?! To make things even more complicated, he has to work on a school project with his arch rival, Corinna Corinna, who also has a detective agency with better equipment (and more intelligence !) than Timmy. It's a riotous romp of a story, but also touches on the kinds of things that might be troubling its young readers in their own lives - for example, Timmy's mum has a new boyfriend, which he finds hard to swallow.
The latest installment, Sanitised For Your Protection, follows Timmy's adventures - and misadventures - further afield, as he finds himself on a road trip to help his mother's boyfriend settle into his new job halfway across the country. They will be accompanied by Molly Moskins' family - Molly's mum is Timmy's mum's best friend and Molly has already been introduced to us right from the first book as the girl at school who smells of tangerines and has a major crush on Timmy. The problem is, Timmy has a case to solve, involving some stolen charity money, and Molly is his prime suspect !
The books are deliciously madcap and totally hilarious, with characters who are fleshed out as the series progresses. I love seeing familiar faces resurface that we've seen in earlier episodes. The short chapters are appealing to beginner or reluctant readers, and the texts are broken up with oodles and oodles of simple illustrations.
They have instant appeal, whatever your age - I love reading them just as much as the kids, whether out loud at bedtime for their entertainment or all by myself, giggling quietly when they are in bed !
Disclosure : I received the books in order to write an honest review.