Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made Audio CD – 1 Feb 2014
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Meet Timmy Failure, founder of the 'best' detective agency in town - Total Failure, Inc. With the help of his polar bear, Total, the clueless, comically self-confident Timmy already has plans for world domination. Plans that will make his mother rich and unpaid bills a thing of the past. And plans that will defeat Corrina Corrina, 'The One Whose Name Shall Not Be Uttered'. But she's not going away. 'Readers should be simultaneously amused and touched by this quirky antihero' BOOKLIST
Top customer reviews
I rated this book 5* because I defiantly reccomend this to other people who are 11years old like me. You are my favourite book writer.
This is one book that can work brilliantly for kids, and brilliantly for adults on another level.
For a nine-year-old, Timmy Failure is a very funny story about an amateur detective with a 'mortal enemy', a polar bear 'associate' for his detective business, and a bit of an ego regarding his own cleverness. He solves cases (usually regarding missing items) and fails spectacularly in school, as well as managing to alienate himself from almost every other child he knows. A big case comes up: his mum's much-treasured Segway (that has been doubling as his Failuremobile) goes missing - he knows the Evil One, his rival detective, must have stolen it. Can he and Total, his forever-ravenous polar bear colleague, find out the truth, before Mum does?
For the adult, Timmy Failure is the child we feel both sorry and nostalgic for - the innocence of his childhood imaginings (is Total real?), his clever-beyond-his-years reasoning (putting 'Chang' as the answer to test questions about famous people as it's the "most common last name in the world". It appeals on a whole new level. He may not seem bright in school (Fs, zeroes on tests), never listening to his about-to-have-a-nervous-breakdown teacher, but he's actually pretty smart (though he can't see the crush a classmate has on him, or the obvious solutions to his cases. Corrina Corrina, the Evil One whom Timmy blacks out in his pictures is a sad character to an adult reading - he sees her as the Enemy. We see her (through the diary Timmy finds) as a lonely girl who may be rich (nanny, big house, everything she could want) but who never spends any time with her single-parent father. Timmy though spends more time than he would like with his own single-parent mum.
That's another aspect I liked - we see two single-parent families, and Timmy doesn't comment on them, on missing a father figure, on the fact that his mum is dating - but the adult reader sees past the words and can see hard-working parents struggling to keep their children on the right track whilst juggling their own jobs and lives.
Oh and as a library worker, I really enjoyed the scenes when Timmy visits his own local library and meets Flo, the rather unusual librarian. Made me laugh.
Such a great series! I really, really enjoyed this, loved how it works for different readers. Timmy is much more a likeable character than the hero of Wimpy Kid, he may not say sorry ("mistakes were made"), but he's pretty adorable and the style of writing is incredibly engaging.
The reader (of whatever age) knows throughout that they know MORE than Timmy, which does make it all the more interesting to see if he will ever catch up with us. Definitely doesn't talk down the reader, as some references will go over the age group's head.
I'm planning on using this with my Junior Book Club, and I can see it being a popular choice. This is a very easy read (the near 300-page length is full of drawings and very short chapters) make it accessible enough for confident 7 or 8 year olds to manage.
On the simplest level, it's a straightforward comedy about the bumbling misadventures of an unbelievably oblivious would-be boy-detective: a kind of grade-school Clouseau.
On a more adult level, it's... well, I wouldn't want to spoil it for you, so I'm going to put my take on what this book is really all about in a separate section with a SPOILER ALERT below. One thing I will mention, since I'm not telling you anything you won't have gleaned from even a glance at the other reviews anyway, is that it's quite touching just how many of this book's grown-up readers are deeply concerned by whether or not our boy-detective's "business partner" (a polar bear by the name of "Total") is supposed to be real. This tells you a lot about how gifted the author is at creating characters that even adults grow to care about.
Of course, a lot Timmy Failure's child readers will be picking up some, but not all of this book's very considerable subtext. I think that's a good thing: There's a lot to be said for giving children books where there's as much to find as the child is ready to see.
And now, the stuff that requires a SPOILER ALERT. DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER if you'd rather figure some things out for yourself.
In fact, if you haven't already read the book, I would actively discourage you from reading the rest of this review.
What caused me to add this section was that I was troubled by another review that claimed that this was a book without learning or growing. Respectfully, I have to disagree.
There is a great deal of learning and growing going on in this book. It's just left masterfully unstated. In a way, it's a lot like the television series Adventure Time, in the sense that it's the product of a creator with enough respect for the intelligence of his audience to know when to leave things unsaid. They're simply left in plain sight for those with eyes to see.
There is serious, grown-up, real-world danger in this book: as real and grown-up as an audit. The chief risk our protagonist faces is being held back a grade; a major life setback he initially seems to completely detach from. So despite the fantasy world our narrator inhabits, he is not entirely playing for kid stakes.
For Timmy himself there is no brutal transition from fantasy to reality. It's more that throughout the story, when given the chance, he gradually moves from being completely detached from reality to being more able to engage with it within his own frame of reference. As happens, for example, when the old teacher who called Timmy "Captain Thickhead" is replaced by one who presents Timmy with his school assignments in terms that Timmy is able to accept - as cases that Timmy, as a detective, must solve.
For adult readers (and more perceptive child ones) the big reveal is in the transition from chapter 54 to chapter 55. Which is why, of course, this pivotal moment is presaged in the prologue. This is where Total's voice morphs into that of Timmy's mother, we learn that Timmy has not been doing any of the things he's been narrating in most of the previous chapter, and "the bowling turkey" (as Timmy calls his mom's boyfriend) complains about how Timmy "still plays all the pretend games". Of course, much of what is revealed has already been hinted at in previous chapters, but this is the point at which reality most forcibly intrudes into Timmy's fantasy narrative.
We can't quite see this book as a coming of age story. Timmy does not even come close to making it all the way into a fully adult world. It's more of a "coming of age overture" in which our protagonist and narrator isn't ready, able, or even called upon to undertake such a drastic journey. What he does do is take some important early steps down that road. That's our story.
And I still find it very touching just how many adult reviewers are deeply troubled by the idea that Timmy's polar bear business partner might not be real.
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