Review: The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler, by Gene Kemp

Tonight’s review is of The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tyler, by Gene Kemp.

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What it’s about (from the publishers): Wherever best friends Tyke Tiler and Danny Price are, there is usually trouble – stolen money, a sheep’s skeleton, fights in class – and it’s mostly trouble that Tyke has to sort out.

Their last term at Cricklepit School is full of the usual fun and madness, but then Tyke learns that much more is at stake. Is it possible to help the helpless Danny? And what final surprise does Tyke have in store?

Sam’s review: I thought I would jot down a quick review of this book since I am trying to read ahead for the second year of my MA. I am doing a module in Children’s Literature from 1960 onwards, and this book was given as a primary text for a topic on ‘the new school story’, since Gene Kemp is widely acknowledged as reinvigorating the genre in the 1970s.

I used to love school stories as a child (and still do as an adult!). I devoured Blyton’s Mallory Towers and St Clare’s series, and also liked the Trebizon series by Anne Digby. More recently, the Just William books made me laugh, so I was holding out a lot of hope for this story.

Unfortunately, it just didn’t enthrall me as much as I would have hoped. There just seemed to be a series of events culminating in a very small crisis two-thirds of the way through and then a twist at the end which didn’t work for me as I knew what the twist was before reading it. Perhaps I would have liked it more had I not known it. I can’t really write much about the book without revealing it so I must be fairly brief and careful.

The book is about the main character and their exploits in and out of school. However, because much of the action took place outside Cricklepit School it never felt like a traditional school tale. To me it just felt like a series of incidents that linked but never really excited or amused to any great extent. The funniest parts for me are the jokes at the beginning of each chapter, which Mary Cadogan described as ‘dire’ in her book Twentieth-Century Children’s Writers but she says the rest of the book is ‘truly innovatory’. The book won the Carnegie Medal and is very well respected and acclaimed but I am saddened to say I just can’t be as complimentary as I would have liked to be.


Have you read The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler? What did you think of it?



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