Top of the Class (nearly) (Tom Gates #9)

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Liz Pichon, Top of the Class (nearly) (Tom Gates #9), Scholastic Australia,  1 Nov 2015, 228pp., $16.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781760155285

Having not read a Tom Gates book before (and this is the ninth in the series, I have been missing out) I was surprised to find at the beginning of the book that Tom has not only made it on to the school council and is about to make a speech to the entire school, but he has also achieved the highest ever score on a particular test. It is shortly revealed, however, that Tom is dreaming in class. Mr Fullerman, a very patient teacher, is preparing the class for an important test while the students are also running for school council. Tom tries his best to concentrate and do well, but many things get in his way including his imagination, foot scratching, and Buster Jones and a certain piece of graffiti.

This is a very funny look at a small snatch of time in the life of Tom Gates and his quest to do well, both in the school elections and the test. The narrative, while appearing sparse, is well worked and paced, with illustrations (Tom’s doodles) dotted throughout and a mix of font sizes and shapes. All readers will find something here, especially reluctant and struggling readers. Tom is a likeable character, with a great sense of humour and big heart. These types of books are important and would make an ideal addition to any library, public, school, or private collection. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Liz Derouet

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