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Mistakes Were Made

(Timmy Failure #1)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  6,282 ratings  ·  977 reviews
Meet "detective" Timmy Failure, star of the kids’ comedy of the year. Created by New York Times best-selling cartoonist Stephan Pastis.

Take eleven-year-old Timmy Failure — the clueless, comically self-confident CEO of the best detective agency in town, perhaps even the nation. Add his impressively lazy business partner, a very large polar bear named Total. Throw in the Fai
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published February 26th 2013 by Candlewick Press
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  6,282 ratings  ·  977 reviews

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Aug 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
My little brother made me read this book a few months back, and I honestly really enjoyed it. Now, if you excuse me, I'm going to go buy a polar bear side-kick for myself. ...more
Barb Middleton
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor
In English classes, teachers often have lessons where students examine the reliability of a character's voice. Some tell the truth and some don't. Huckleberry Finn is an "unreliable narrator" who even says outright that sometimes he tells the truth, sometimes he lies, and sometimes he stretches the truth. Take a look at Holden Caulfield in "Catcher and the Rye," another top-notch unreliable narrator spewing contradictory statements and hyperboles in most of his dialogue. Some unreliable narrator ...more
Irena BookDustMagic
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My friend, who is a librarian in the children's library, wanted me to read his favorite children's book.
He said it has a smart humour and then he told me he actually doesn't know in which age rang this book belongs.

Do you know what I think? In every age rang!
Because, I think the adults will appreciate this story written in the child's perspective and children will have a great time reading it, no matter what their age is.

Let me show you who we're dealing with here:

This is Timmy:

He has a detect
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
4 STARS!!!

This was a freaking hilarious read and I did not expect to laugh so much during my read of this but I did and I loved it. I got a wisdom tooth taken out a few days ago and it made it so hard to not bust out laughing reading every page because it hurts haha I was wondering how this was going to play with the mystery side of the story considering it is mostly illustrations made by the main character himself and not his 1,500 pound side-kick polar bear named Total and it turns out that it
Feb 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
Ah, Timmy Failure. I'm a little confused about how I feel about this book. It's hysterical, well written, introduces some new vocabulary (to myself, in addition to the middle-grade readers this book is aimed at), and shows glimpses at more serious real-life issues (single motherhood, economical issues, struggles in school). At the same time though, there's some mean name calling, hatred towards a little girl with no real reason (a little girl we find out is dealing with some family issues of her ...more
Jackie "the Librarian"
Timmy Failure lost me. This looked like it should be funny, but I just didn't like it very much. The cartoony line art was appealing, and the idea of a clueless boy detective with a polar bear sidekick sounded like it had lots of potential.
The problem was, I just didn't like Timmy. Not only was he clueless and irresponsible, he was kind of a jerk to his classmates.
I did like his relationship with his mother and the new teacher, and there I could see a glimmer of appeal. Timmy is so utterly in
Jul 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
So, what I liked:

Pastis describes boys to a tee. Page 7: Drawing of Mom wagging finger and saying "Never. Ever. Ever." To which Timmy says, "I thought that was vague. So I use it."

That had me rolling.

What I didn't like:

Timmy reminds me of Greg from DIARY OF A WIMPY KID. They're both jerks. They treat their friends rotten and they're completely selfish and unambitious. This is not an accurate, or even a likable, portrayal of boys.

Also, I kept waiting for the big reveal, that Timmy has Asperger
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Call it the attack of the syndicated cartoonists. For whatever reason, in the year 2013 we are seeing droves of escapees from the comic strip pages leaping from the burning remains of the newspaper industry into the slightly less volatile world of books for kids. How different could it be, right? As a result you’ve The Odd Squad by Michael Fry (Over the Hedge) and Zits Chillax by Jerry Scott (Zits). Even editorial cartoonists are getting in on the act with Pulitzer prize winner Matt Davies and h ...more
I've heard Timmy Failure described as the "the next Diary of a Wimpy Kid." I love statements like that. They get the best eye-rolls. But wait, check out the first lines.

"It's harder to drive a polar bear into somebody's living room than you'd think. You need a living room window that's big enough to fit a car. You need a car that's big enough to fit a polar bear. And you need a bolar bear that's big enough to not point out your errors."

I know what you're thinking. How will the rest of a book fro
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, own-children-s
Well, it was Fayleure
“But somebody changed it.”

Giggly and hilarious. The best kids’ books are written for everyone with new discoveries found each re-read, with each child that you can read it to, or with.

Like Winnie-the-Pooh:

“Hello, Rabbit,' he said, 'is that you?'
'Let's pretend it isn't,' said Rabbit, 'and see what happens.”


Owl … “could read quite comfortably when you weren't looking over his shoulder and saying "Well?" all the time, and he could --
"Well?" said Rabbit
"Yes," said Owl, lo
Kathleen Dixon
Dec 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: db-reads, children-s
I read this book some time this year and have recommended it to many buyers at the bookshop I work in. Timmy Failure is one of those hopelessly ignorant but amazingly self-confident people, and though in real life they are difficult to relate to, in this book it's very funny. And one can hope that he grows out of it.

And he's a nicer kid than the wimpy one that sells more.
Nov 29, 2015 rated it did not like it
This kid is supposed to be comic, but seemed like an idiot and a brat. Maybe his antics are supposed to be so outlandish that even a child can see through them, but I'd rather my child just not be exposed to it at all. ...more
La La
Sep 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
Timmy is like that awful boy from the Wimpy Kid books, but he's the MC and the hero; yeah, run that concept through your brain again. Being a jerk, calling people names, body shaming others, being mean, destroying other's property... yay, let's hear it for all the "misunderstood" kids in the world, let them be themselves and celebrate it. What kind of a message is that to be sending elementary school children?

I know Timmy probably has ADHD, it was hinted at many times, but the author painted a p
May 01, 2013 rated it liked it
I'm a sucker for a flawed, unreliable narrator, love understated, deadpan humor, and believe self-delusion is an unavoidable fact of life that should be embraced by all good stories, so it would seem that Timmy Failure has a winning formula for me since it has all three of these in abundance. Unfortunately, the humor never quite connected with my funny bone. I think it had something to do with how obviously hard Pastis works to make sure readers notice Timmy's failings and feel superior in respo ...more
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What I love about Timmy Failure is that you can read it on two levels. On the one hand, it's hilarious. Timmy's delusions of grandeur and boundless faith in himself make for a lot of funny situations. But the adult reader, and probably quite a few sophisticated kids, will also see Timmy struggling to make a very imperfect world into the one he'd rather have, and will be happy when things turn out well for Timmy despite his best efforts. ...more
Toshi Parmar
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely marvelous. I was expecting more puns, since this is from a guy who runs pearls before swine but absolufuckinglutely marvdonkulous!
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: humor, kids-fiction
Rating Decision Crisis: 2 stars, or 3? Started slow, Timmy too much like Wimpy Kid/AwfulHumanBeing Greg Heffley, but improved, slowly....

Did warrant a few chuckles, though; Timmy's statement that Corrina Corrina "has the ethics of a donkey" made me laugh out loud, as did his understanding that Flo the Librarian was reading more books about killing innocent creatures when he sees him reading my favorite book of all-time, To Kill a Mockingbird. Another truly funny moment comes when Timmy sees the
Erik Fazekas
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Timmy Failure je môj nový najobľúbenejší osemročný hrdina!
Má toľko dobrých heftov, že kebyže ich mám vypísať, tak to bude polka knihy! Akože fakt si to prečítajte. Timmy Failure stojí za to. A ak si udrží kvalitu aj v Ďalších častiach, tak sa veľmo teším!
I like him very much!

I asked mother for a teleconference to discuss this and other thingsm but she is constantly rescheduling. I'm not pushing the issue for now, but I expect it will come up at her year-end review. That's the annu
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's no Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze, but it's pretty good. The main character is equally as inept and self-centered as Wimpy Kid, but not nearly as rude or whiny. He comes off as more just...oblivious and bumbling.

Definitely some recognizable humor and style from Pearls Before Swine.

I reviewed this on the TMC Guys Read Blog at
May 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-s-lit
Yes, Timmy Failure, mistakes WERE made. The first mistake was your very existence. Does the world really need another one of those Wimpy Kid knockoffs?

The second mistake was making you a bumbling arrogant character that no reader could possibly root for.

The third mistake was immediately allowing the reader to solve the mystery but still forcing us to wait for Timmy to solve it, in the name of comedy.

There were no real stakes, no real characters, no originality, but there WAS a lazy polar bear de
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
Fun and amusing.

I was almost done with the book before it occurred to me that Total, Timmy's polar bear friend, might not be real. This idea FILLED ME WITH RAGE. I hate when books have fantastical elements that turn out to be someone's imagination or a dream or a hallucination or whatnot. So while I'm glad that the book never actually indicates that Total is imaginary, I wish it would go farther in the opposite direction, making it clear that he's real. (That's something I love about the Phoebe
Victor The Reader
A very charming and humorously odd story about self proclaimed boy genius and detective Timmy Failure🧣, when a simple case turns into a bizarre search and rescue mission that goes weird in many ways. Timmy is a very interesting character, even if the way he sees things are a little off, but the story and characters provide plenty of chuckles and an exciting series. A- (91%/Excellent)
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was the right amount of sarcasm, humor and ridiculousness!
Jul 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
You know how all books are not for all readers and some books work SO MUCH BETTER when read aloud? Yeah, this was definitely the case with the particular book and myself. I was all ready to throw in the towel because quite honestly, I couldn't believe what I was reading. I get it is for a much younger audience than I, but I read a fairly large amount of Children's Fiction and even Picture Books, so the fact that this one was giving me fits was enough to aggravate. HOWEVER, in my exasperated stat ...more
Krystal Caracol
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
My 8yo son has been trying to get me to read this, so I finally did, and it is cleverly funny and ridiculous! I'm interested in continuing these books. ...more
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I am speechless.

For the past few months, I've made a concerted effort to try to read as many classics as possible - I've read 'To Kill a Mockingbird', 'Oliver Twist', 'The Catcher in the Rye', '1984' as well as a few others, and I can say in full confidence that none of these books are even comparable to the sheer genius that is 'Mistakes Were Made'. This is a book like no other - a tale of ambition, courage and perseverance and the protagonist has got to be one of the most well-rounded and
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Timmy Failure: Mistakes were Made (Book 1) by Stephan Pastis
Candlewick, 2013
294 pages
Recommended for grades 4-6

Timmy Failure thinks himself to be a topnotch detective that is destined to run a multi-billion dollar detective agency. The irony here is that Timmy does live up to his name, no matter how much he tries to assure readers he isn't a failure, by missing the blatantly obvious answers to all his cases.
When Timmy borrows his mother's Segway and loses it, he is determined to
Paul  Hankins
From the creator of PEARLS BEFORE SWINE, this one reads like The Wimpy Kid meets Calvin and Hobbs meets I AM A GENIUS OF INCREDIBLE EVIL AND I WANT TO BE YOUR CLASS PRESIDENT.

This one has some layers that do not get as fully developed (single mother, family economics, new relationships) as say a similar title, MILO: STICKY NOTES AND BRAIN FREEZES (loss, grief, single parent homes), but I think the target audience for this title will not mind this so much with the bumbling antics of Timmy, Rollo,
Apr 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, humor
I liked the character of Timmy but am curious how much others will enjoy him. Maybe it's his over confidence in his detective skills or his bumbling nature, he just isn't really as good at crime solving as he thinks he is. Yet, maybe that is his charm. Timmy does land himself in some interesting predicaments and I can see children enjoying how he gets out of them. Timmy's 1500 pound sidekick business partner, Total the polar bear was hard to imagine wandering around solving cases with him but t ...more
Apr 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: j
Timmy Failure is a detective. He thinks he is very successful. His partner is a polar bear named Total. Yep, it is the Total Failure Detective Agency. A girl nemesis, a missing Segway, and troubles at school all seem to be insurmountable problems. But not for long.
Why I picked it up - It's one of those Wimpy Kid read a-likes.
Why I finished it - It was funny though possibly a different funny for kids. This book seemed to want to cover a lot, maybe too much, and much seemed glossed over perhaps
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Harvie Williams- Mrs Sodano 2 2 Jun 25, 2017 07:48PM  
RDNG 636 Fall 2015: Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made 1 2 Oct 11, 2015 08:18AM  
What did you guys Like the most? 1 3 Jan 14, 2015 10:36AM  
Timmy Failure Mistakes Were Made 4 27 Feb 18, 2014 07:46PM  

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Stephan Pastis was born in 1968 and raised in San Marino, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1989 with a degree in political science. Although he had always wanted to be a syndicated cartoonist, Pastis realized that the odds of syndication were slim, so he entered UCLA Law School in 1990 and became an attorney instead. He practiced la ...more

Other books in the series

Timmy Failure (8 books)
  • Timmy Failure: Zero to Hero (Timmy Failure Prequel)
  • Now Look What You've Done (Timmy Failure, #2)
  • We Meet Again (Timmy Failure, #3)
  • Sanitized for Your Protection (Timmy Failure, #4)
  • The Book You're Not Supposed to Have (Timmy Failure, #5)
  • The Cat Stole My Pants (Timmy Failure, #6)
  • It's the End When I Say It's the End (Timmy Failure, #7)

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