Timmy Failure – Mistakes Were Made

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Madeby Stephen Pastis

it’s a book I wanted to leave until I thought about it

I am looking forward to finding out what reception is receives in my classroom – thinking it should be in grades 4, 5 and 6

I chose to read this book because it seemed like one my students would like – highly illustrated text, a comic/graphic novel feel.  Timmy Failure (used to be spelled Fayleure) runs a detective agency in and around his boring obligation – school.  Total, his sort-of-pet-found-wandering-around-searching-for-an-iceberg polar bear is his sidekick.  Timmy’s cases don’t go well to begin with.  Total doesn’t make them any better.

Timmy’s friend, Rollo Tookus would definitely make a great sidekick (if not lead detective).  Timmy dismisses his suggestions as foolish though.  After all who would ever want to take the advice of somebody who thinks, studies and takes his GPA seriously.  Timmy is adored by Molly Moskins,  though as with most things, Timmy hasn’t a clue.  Then, of course, there is the girl whose face is obscured from the reader.  She is Timmy’s arch rival and detective competition. She is into school as much as Rollo and rich enough to get what she wants – and because of this  she solves cases faster than Timmy – at least that is what he believes.

Timmy means well for certain, but his intentions and his actions don’t match very often (that is to say, “never.)”  Are you starting to get the picture about Failure Detective Agency?  At first I thought Timmy Failure was too silly, but the more I read the more I realized he has a lot offer his readers.  What happens when things aren’t going so well for your mom?  What happens when you do things you know you shouldn’t  and one thing leads to another and to another and to another and…  Timmy Failure will make you nod in recognition – we’ve all been in that place when things aren’t really working out no matter what we try.  Maybe you’ll laugh or maybe you’ll  think about what it’s like to have bad luck while you’re trying to achieve greatness.  Should you give up?  I don’t think so.  Most things aren’t what they seem – any detective can tell you that.  But you know… mistakes are made.


Native American TalesTrickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection

a graphic collection

In the note from the editor, Matt Dembicki explains that the idea for this book came from reading a book of Native American tales in the library.  He realized he didn’t know most of these tales and thought he should.  He knew many European myths and tales, along with a few Asian and African tales, but none from his own country.  All cultures have tales of the trickster—a crafty creature or being who uses cunning to get food, steal precious possessions, or simply cause mischief. The trickster disrupts the order of things and makes you consider different possibilities. In Native American traditions, the trickster takes many shape-shifting forms like a coyote or rabbit, raccoon or raven.

Trickster is a collection of twenty-one Native American tales adapted into comic form. Each story is written by a different Native American storyteller giving each tale an original voice.  The work of telling the story is combined with the unique artwork of an illustrator so each tale is represented in a unique way.  Some stories are serious and dramatic while others are funny and light.   This collection brings tricksters into readers’ hands in vivid form. From an ego-driven misstep in “Coyote and the Pebbles” to the foolish greed of “Rabbit’s Choctaw Tail Tale,” to the ingenuity in “Puapualenalena- Wizard Dog of Waipi’o Valley Trickster provides rich stories for readers of all ages and opens doors onto a wide range of Native American cultures.

As I read each story in the collection I thought of different picture book versions of single tales that offered an even greater picture of the amazing lore that is part of our country.  My favorites were Rabbit and the Tug of War, The Bear Who Stole the Chinook and Giddy Up, Wolfie.  What are yours?


Around the World

Around The WorldAround the World – three remarkable journeys

a graphic novel by Matt Phelan

Last weekend I read a  newspaper about a young woman who completed a solo circumnavigation in her sailboat.  She turned sixteen on the voyage and claims to be the youngest person to complete this incredible challenge.  (Interesting to note Guinness World Book of Records no longer tracks items like this so they don’t encourage kids to take too much risk.)  In the article she said she learned many things on the journey – how to play the flute (the guitar was a challenge in choppy seas), about the world, her boat and a great deal about herself.

That got me thinking.  For me that may be what is most intriguing part of embarking on a solo journey of any magnitude.  I admire the courage, determination and perseverance of these choices.  It makes me wonder about the stories of all who have attempted this challenge – why do they think to do it?  How are they changed by the attempt or completion?  What does it lead too?

Three Remarkable Journeys Around the World adds both answers and more questions to those wonderings from me.  It starts with, “It all began, as many great adventures begin, with a story.” This sets the stage for the travels for the three adventurers featured in this book –Thomas Stevens, Joshua Slocum, and Nellie Bly.  Thomas Stevens traveled in 1884 from San Francisco to Boston on a 50-inch bicycle.  Joshua Slocum was the first man to sail solo around the world in 1895.  Nellie Bly was a pioneer journalist who traveled around the world to beat the time record of Phileas Fogg in 1889.  With his typical attention to detail, Matt Phelan captures their adventures in graphic form.  It’s beautifully drawn and skillfully arranged to capture the spirit of each adventurer.  The tales show how each person embarking on a journey of this magnitude also has an individual quest – an internal search.  It is amazing how Matt Phelan’s art and story craft develops and shows changes to the inner lives of these people.  Around the World weaves an exciting story of three historical characters whose bold endurance and stamina go beyond mere bravery.  Their willingness to focus on tasks some thought were unattainable paved the way for others who dare to dream!   What would your journey be?  It doesn’t have to be for or grand to make an impact… hmmm

Check out this preview and then dive right in – adventure anyone?