August 26th 2014 by Candlewick Press
ARC from YABC and reviewed there.
Tom is in year five, and would rather draw or read comics in class than pay attention to his teacher, Mr. Fullerman, which would explain why he gets put in the very front of the classroom! Tom does occasionally pay attention, but he is a past master at forging notes from home and making up elaborate excuses for why he isn't turning things in. He is also very embarrassed by his father, who does freelance work from a shed in their yard and occasionally shows up at school in his gardening clothes, and also by the "fossils": his grandparents, who serve very odd food (like banana on pizza). His older sister, Delia, is easy to annoy, and Tom does so at every chance. The big thing going on in Tom's world is a concert by his favorite band, Dude3, which he manages to talk his father into attending with him. Tom's own band, the Dogzombies, also have an opportunity to perform at a school concert, but both concerts end up being hysterically problematic. This is the first volume of a seven book British series being released in the US for the first time.
Strengths: Notebook novels are always popular, and this one has pleasing graphics that are somewhat reminiscent of Schoolhouse Rock. Tom is well meaning about most of his escapades, except those involving his sister, and the inclusion of typically British phrases and obsessions (Caramel wafer, anyone? Actually, I could go for a Cadbury Finger right now!) add a new twist to this type of book. A glossary is included at the back.
Weaknesses: Not much of a plot, and the illustrations and type are a bit random and made it harder for me to follow what was going on.