Meet Tom Gates. When his teachers don’t have their beady eyes on him, he likes to draw pictures and write about stuff, like last summer’s worst camping vacation ever (five merits!), or how much he hates sitting next to nosy Marcus Meldrew, the most annoying boy at school. All Tom really wants is to score tickets to see the best band ever, Dude3, when they come to town, and to impress Amy Porter, who is very nice and smart (but is currently ignoring him). Tom’s teachers think he is easily distracted and “lacks focus,” but that’s a bit harsh — can he help it if his grumpy big sister, Delia, made him late for school (again), or that last night’s homework had to be sacrificed to stave off a vicious dog attack? Master of excuses, creative storyteller, and middle-school comedian extraordinaire, Tom Gates is guaranteed to get kids turning the pages — and keep them laughing.
No school for two whole weeks! Now Tom has plenty of time for the good stuff, like finding new ways (so many!) to annoy his big sister, Delia. Or watching TV and eating caramel candy. Or most important, band practice for DOGZOMBIES in his best friend Derek’s garage (while not encouraging Derek’s ’60s-music-crazed dad). All that stands between this band and rock greatness is, well, a song (besides “Delia’s a Weirdo”). And finding a drummer. And landing a gig. Will Tom let a killer toothache and pesky overdue homework get in his way?
Things are looking up for Tom Gates. The school dance is coming up, and his birthday, too! What could possibly put him in a bad mood? Well, the words math lesson, for one thing. And that annoying twit Marcus Meldrew at school. And Granny Mavis threatening to bake Tom’s birthday cake (carrots!). And the fact that nobody seems to be noticing the long list of birthday presents Tom has prominently displayed. Worst of all, can it be true that Tom’s dad has volunteered to deejay the school dance wearing the wacky costume from his new job?
Since Tom forgets everything, it’s not surprising that he forgot all about the trip he’s supposed to go on with class 5F. It’s good that his family helps keep him on track (even, once in a while, his grumpy sister, Delia)! Luckily, there are loads of excellent things to do on the trip, like making rafts, eating snacks, and seeing some very weird creatures. That is, as long as Tom doesn’t get stuck in a group with anyone who snores or worse (looking at you, Marcus Meldrew!).
After receiving the shock of a lifetime — seeing his big sister, Delia, without her sunglasses on — Tom is trying to gear himself up for sports day at school. It does not help that his dad is training for the parents’ race on that day — and plans to wear bizarre cycling shorts! Meanwhile, Tom’s band, DogZombies, is supposed to play in the school talent show, meaning they’d better start practicing — a lot. It might all be worth it, though, if the absolutely brilliant band DUDE3 appears as special guests!
Tom’s hoping to be made a Star Pupil at school, but that means he needs to put more effort into his homework than his doodles. Easier said than done! Meanwhile, his grandparents (the Fossils) are about to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary, and Uncle Kevin wants to plan something special. Then the cold weather turns to snow and school gets canceled, leaving Tom is snowed in at home with quite the crew, including his especially grumpy sister, Delia; his cousins, and his annoying classmate, Marcus Meldrew. Aren’t snow days supposed to be fun?