Review by Booklist Review
Eleven-year-old Timmy Failure would have you believe that he is the best detective in town, destined to head a multibillion-dollar agency. But he is no Encyclopedia Brown. The fact that his partner is an imaginary 1,200-pound polar bear named Total hence the agency's moniker Total Failure is an indication of Timmy's rich inner life. In reality, Timmy is bored at school by teachers who don't get him and is in a whole heap of trouble for using his mother's Segway, which was then stolen. Cartoonist Pastis' book is in the same vein as Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2007), but his brand of humor is less slapstick and much darker. Timmy's delusional self-confidence seems almost pathetic at times, as the reader realizes that he is very socially inept. Fortunately for Timmy, there are some adults in his life who really do care for him, and with the right balance of indulgence and firmness, they keep him on track. Younger readers attracted by the cartoons might not connect with Timmy's offbeat humor, but older readers should be simultaneously amused and touched by this quirky antihero. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This may be Pastis' first book for young people, but he is a New York Times best-selling adult author. Impressive promotional plans include an author tour, promotional items, and extensive consumer advertising.--Dean, Kara Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Mysteries abound in the first children's book from Pastis, creator of the comic strip Pearls Before Swine. Who stole the Halloween candy of Timmy's classmate Gabe? Who is the mysterious girl Timmy refuses to discuss? Why is no one fazed that Timmy has a pet polar bear named Total? Fortunately, Timmy is an aspiring detective, who believes his agency, Total Failure Inc. ("We won't fail, despite what the name says"), is "on the verge of being a Fortune 500 company." Unfortunately, Timmy is a terrible sleuth, who doesn't leap to the wrong conclusions so much as cannonball into a swimming pool full of them. His narration reveals an impressive command of business-speak (he doesn't talk with his single mother-he teleconferences), while the wide-eyed characters resemble a cross between the work of George Booth and Sara Varon. Pastis has assembled an eccentric and funny cast (running gags revolve around Total's voracious appetite and a librarian who looks like one of the Hells Angels), yet there are also touching interactions to be found, particularly between Timmy and his mother. Ages 8-12. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 4-7-Timmy Failure is the mastermind and CEO behind Total Failure Inc., a detective agency he runs out of his mother's closet with Total, his imaginary polar bear associate and business partner. Timmy becomes involved in several cases, including missing candy, missing shoes, and a toilet-papered house,. Then, to his horror, his Failuremobile, otherwise known as his mother's Segway, goes missing. Who is behind its disappearance? Timmy is sure it's the rival detective agency run by his classmate, the evil Corrina Corrina. He also finds himself dealing with his mother's new boyfriend, a new apartment, and a new teacher. With so many cases and so much change, can Timmy come out on top? Pastis's illustrated comic novel seems aimed at the Wimpy Kid readership judging by the cartoon drawings and the sarcastic male protagonist. Yet many of Timmy's escapades may go over this target audience's heads since the vocabulary is sophisticated. Timmy's apparent lack of common sense will also either delight students or turn them off completely. Jared Goldsmith does a fabulous job voicing all the characters, especially Timmy. Be sure to pair the audio with the print version.-Elizabeth Elsbree, Krug Elementary School, Aurora, IL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review
Timmy Failure and his sidekick, Total, a 1500-pound polar bear, run a detective agency true to its name: Total Failure, Inc. The interplay of the slapstick text with the pen-and-ink illustrations is sardonic--hilariously so--and Timmy is an unreliable narrator done right. Adult cartoonist Pastis's humor may resonate more with grownups, but it offers plenty for younger readers as well. (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
The great children's-book characters can get on your nerves. Eloise is a little spoiled. The Cat in the Hat refuses to listen to anyone else. Timmy Failure would be easy to actually hate. When he's taking a group test, he brings down everyone's score by drawing dot-to-dot pictures with the Scantron bubbles. When his teacher isn't looking, Timmy goes to the world map and draws the future offices of his detective agency, with a branch on every major continent. Timmy has already started solving crimes. His business is aptly called Total Failure, Inc. His neighbor Gunnar hires him to find some missing candy. Gunnar's brother is sitting in bed, with chocolate stains on his face. Candy wrappers are strewn all around. Timmy is stumped, though, because the brother has an alibi: He was eating candy. Timmy is a classic comic type: the person who's arrogant for no good reason. But Pastis keeps him from becoming unbearable by turning him into Walter Mitty. He's a lonely boy whose mother is dating a bowler, and he dreams of being the world's greatest detective. Who wouldn't? The Pearls Before Swine cartoonist's frequent black-and-white illustrations help to cast Timmy's adventure in an appropriately ironic light. Timmy may not be one of the great children's-book characters, but he has greatness in him. Just like all of us. (Comic mystery. 8-12)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.