What to Read After... Tom Gates

Published on: 18 March 2019 Author: Anna McKerrow

The Tom Gates books by Liz Pichon are hugely popular - but if your children or students are looking for something new, which stories could they possibly love as much? We have some ideas, and you shared your thoughts, too...

The cover of The Brilliant World of Tom Gates

Liz Pichon's Tom Gates books have sold over eight million copies to date and are published in 43 countries. Liz's signature combination of comedy, zany illustration and Tom's slightly chaotic everyday life is awesomely popular with primary school kids, but if your Tom Gates fans are looking for something else, here are a few books to try...

For more books about school

The cover of Beaky Malone: World's Worst School Trip

Illustration: Katie Abey

School is a big part of the Tom Gates universe, and is, of course, extremely relatable for children. The Beaky Malone series by Barry Hutchison and Katie Abey is even sillier, and Em Lynas' You Can't Make Me Go To Witch School is full of anarchic magic and tons of laughs. Finally, there's always the fabulous Pamela Butchart, whose writing about school is spot on in terms of humour and observation.

For more books about families

The cover of What Lexie Did

Illustration: Helen Crawford-White

Tom's family is a key element of his story, whether it's his Gran with her unusual cookery, his best friend next door or his annoying sister. Kids looking for a book they can relate to in terms of families could try Good Dog McTavish by Meg Rosoff, in which McTavish the dog takes a disorganised family in hand.

Year 5 or 6 kids will love What Lexie Did by Emma Shevah, in which Lexie negotiates her way in a big Greek Cypriot family, while the books in the Nothing To See Here Hotel series feature a hilarious family (complete with a troll gran in the attic) that run a hotel for monsters.

For more funny books

The front cover of Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes

Illustration: Erica Salcedo

For sheer laugh out loud silliness, Tom Gates fans are sure to adore Dav Pilkey's Dog Man and Captain Underpants series, especially if they like funny books they can read quickly.

More confident readers will gobble up the Kid Normal series, in which Murph, a normal boy, finds himself at a school for kids with superpowers. And Iguana Boy Saves the World With a Triple Cheese Pizza is full of laughs as well as great characters and a page-turning plot.

For more illustrated books

The cover of Bad Mermaids

Illustration: Jason Cockcroft

The book of books for kids that like illustrated stories with a healthy dash of surreal humour could be said to be Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton's The 13 Storey Treehouse series, in which Andy and Terry build ever more irrationally stupendous layers to their treehouse and battle to get their book written for the publisher on time.

Sibéal Pounder's Bad Mermaids series is funny and delightfully illustrated by Jason Cockcroft, and if you're looking for incredible illustration in a quick read, Chris Riddell's Goth Girl or (with Paul Stewart) Chaos Zone novels are brilliant.

Join in!

The cover of Beasts of Olympus: Zeus's Eagle

Illustration: David Roberts

Those were our suggestions, but we also wanted to hear which books and authors you would recommend.

To start you off, we asked Tamsin Rosewell, bookseller at Kenilworth Books, to recommend us some of her favourite reads for Tom Gates fans. She said:

'For all those young readers first exploring new genres and getting to grips with the breadth of the English language, we don't talk enough about short stories. Short stories are rewarding and powerful, and through them you can dip in and explore a wide range of writing.

'I love Lucy Coats' Beasts of Olympus series - these are little illustrated chapter books based on Greek mythology. Each book tells many shorter tales, and they all weave together. No childhood should be without access to mythology; it is both wonderfully entertaining and hugely important to world culture. David Roberts' illustrations bring to life the many extraordinary gods and monsters, from centaurs and winged horses, to serpent-headed Gorgons and a pantheon of goddesses, gods and demi-gods.

'For the kids who love a good creepy story, I'd also recommend Chris Priestley's Tales of Terror, three books of intelligent and fun little ghost stories. Like Tom Gates, they have an extensive cast of children as main characters - some delightful and some perfectly horrible. Each story can be enjoyed on its own, but they also all weave together and come full circle if you do read all three books. Chris Priestley's beautiful writing will be different and challenging for those who've learned to love the bright, colloquial chat of Tom Gates, but David Roberts' illustrations allow readers to both pause and also explore the darkly comic setting.'

The World of Norm

Illustrator: Donough O'Malley

Great ideas from Tamsin, then - and you didn't disappoint either, coming up with some brilliant suggestions! Here are some of our favourites:

  • Claire on Facebook revealed that her 9-year-old is 'flying through' the World of Norm books by Jonathan Meres and illustrator Donough O'Malley, and they are 'very popular' at @HazeleyLibrary (where The Private Blog of Joe Cowley by Ben Davis is also going down well).
  • Over on Instagram, @tamski74 suggested the Beetle Boy books by M. G. Leonard, explaining that her daughter is 'obsessed' with them: 'She can not put them down.'
  • We had lots of great ideas from you on Facebook: Helen's son loves James Patterson's Middle School books, Amalia called John Dougherty's Stinkbomb and Ketchup Face series 'awesome', Claire went for Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and Sheena said The Fantastic Four Fish Fingers by Jason Beresford and Vicky Barker is a 'funny series' that her son likes.
  • The sign of success is a series that children can't stop devouring, so you might want to check out Andy Stanton's Mr Gum books, as Clare explained: 'My 9-year-old is working through [them] and plays the audiobook versions over and over!'
  • Similarly, Emma shared some ideas from a true Liz Pichon fan: 'My son eats up the Tom Gates books and rereads them often. He also read the 13-Storey Treehouse series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and the Timmy Failure books within days of acquiring them.'
  • Back on Twitter, @BVCLib had some super ideas for us: 'We love Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier, Dark Lord: The Teenage Years by Jamie Thomson, Charlie Merrick's Misfits by Dave Cousins and Boywatching by Chloe Bennet.'
  • And finally, start marking your calendar, because @janesetheridge came up with one to watch: 'It's not out until April, but I'd recommend Planet Omar by Zanib Mian, illustrated by Nadaya Mafaridik.' We can't wait!

Get in touch using the comments box below or by sharing your ideas on the hashtag #WhatToReadAfter on Twitter or Instagram, making sure to tag us @BookTrust - we'll be sharing our favourite ideas on this page soon!


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