Gates1

Tom Gates Liz Pichon

Default Smiles This is another one of those ‘I saw them in a shop and I just had to have them’ stories. Because you see, I saw them in a shop. And I just had to have them. And can you blame me? The covers are so eye catching, and it’s so full of entertaining doodles.
Sassy Sharky Come for the covers, stay for the cartoons.
Surprised Smiles This is Horrible Histories and Geronimo Silton all over again! But now imagine you’re a young lad in school. Life is full of pitfalls, like a grumpy older sister, a smug know-it-all at school, and your band really isn’t as good as you want it to be.
Happy Sharky2 The plots follow the usual comedic theme of hugely important events that are not really (usually) that hugely important, like your big sister eating the cereal you wanted, or nobody signing up as a drummer for your band (which you barely practice with anyway). Or somehow, somehow, always ending up with crumpled homework no matter how hard you try. Somehow neat and complete homework is the biggest struggle in the world.
Shocked Smiles Well there’s more important things to think about!
Sassy Sharky There’s a ton of antics going on in between main plots like ‘besting the know-it-all’ or ‘dealing with annoying relatives’ or the terrifying ‘oh god we accidentally sold mum’s favourite brooch at a jumble sale’. Which is practically a thriller story all on its own.
Happy Smiles The mostly easy-breezy slice of life situations and problems go perfectly with the look of the books, which are basically doodle filled diaries. The fun part is that the doodles aren't just illustrations. They slide in everywhere sometimes becoming almost a comic alongside the text. The smug know-it-all and the grumpy sister feature prominently when Tom, the main character is especially annoyed with them, getting drawn with horns or being eaten by trolls, and so on. There’s a lot of personality in these books. They’re like little snacks that you can pick up and enjoy quickly.
Default Sharky Definitely pick one up and try it. If you like one you’ll like them all, they’re a fun time.
Confused Smiles I can see a ‘but’ on your face. You’ve been a little scowly since we started the review.
Default Sharky But there just seems to be so many books written as diaries by middle or high school kids that I’ve seen on the market. Seems to be a pretty popular genre. And some of them really weren’t very good. Honestly if you hadn’t bought them I probably wouldn’t have given them a chance just because I haven’t had the best time with other school-diary books.
Shocked Smiles Okay yes that’s true, but how many of those made us stop while browsing and go ‘oooooooh!’?
Happy Sharky2 … you have a point. They’re pretty strong covers to stand out like that. And I tried them after all, and they were worth it. Cute, charming, funny. If you’re trying out anything in the school-diary genre for the first time, for heaven’s sake make these your first so you have an idea of the good stuff.
Default Smiles So there you go! A good baseline is to see if you like the illustrative style of it obviously. That’s how it grabs you. So let’s show off some examples!

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This is the kind of cover that grabs your collar, climbs up to your shoulder, and screams in your ear. In a good way!

Good stuff indeed. Though I’m not sure how effective a washing line is as a hiding place.

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This page is an excellent example of being almost a comic. Also an excellent example of relatives who ignore what you’re saying until they try the thing for themselves.

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To be fair, who really remembers birthdays that aren’t their own?

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The back covers climb up your shoulder and scream BUY ME as well.

smiles-intensifies^Honestly this drawing style makes me so happy. It’s so… so fun. And it looks really organic, not like someone’s trying really, really hard to make illustrations that look like spur of the moment doodles. I remember that was one of Sharky’s issues when we went browsing through a few of those books in the same genre. As someone who can’t take notes on anything without making doodles and cartoons all over it, I approve one hundred percent.

Surprised Sharky 2^Oh God.

Surprised Smiles^What now?

Surprised Sharky^I just looked up the series. There’s more of these and I think the author’s writing even more. It’s going to take forever to get them all.

Confused Smiles^… well… I mean we don’t have to get every single one immediate-

Angry Sharky 3^Shut up of course we do.

Surprised Smiles^But not imme-

Angry Sharky^Shut up of course we do.

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