THE TIME IT TOOK TOM :: how long does it take to paint a room?

the time it took tom.jpg

Age guide: 2 to 8 years ish

This is a simple story about different points of view, forgiveness, mistakes, work and overcoming. Also, it’s funny!

Tom is a little fellow who finds some red paint – then, in the space of just three hours, paints his entire living room red. Including the TV and the cat!

He’s quite pleased with the result. 

Mum is not, but after a few wild exclamations she gets it together and they undertake a complete revamp of the living room – and finally everyone is happy with the result. 

Years pass, then one day Tom finds the blue paint*….

Tom made a moral decision – he decided to paint the living room red. It’s a moral decision rather than a decorating decision because the room isn’t really his alone to decorate and clearly he's is not weighing aesthetics when he paints the cat red. But still Tom seems pleased with his decision. He seems to like the look he created and he kept at it for three hours. But his mum clearly disagrees. 

Right here, there’s a moral dilemma presented to young readers – was it a good decision? 

It all depends on your point of view. Tom’s moral decision leads Mum to a place where she has to make a moral decision – not about the room decoration but rather about how she will respond. 

After her initial explosion, Mum moves into fixing mode and redecorates. It takes three weeks to recover the living room – but there’s a lovely little speech bubble above a smiling Tom saying ‘And this is how we did it.’  The ‘we’ relieves the tension that we as readers feel between Tom and his mum – they are working together.  Tom’s mum seems to be able to understand his actions, but we’re left wondering if Tom really understands his mum’s position.

This is a great book for laying out a moral dilemma and leaving it not quite resolved. We don’t know for sure what Tom did with the blue paint* – it’s three years later, maybe he has grown up, maybe he still thinks it would be fun to paint the living room, maybe the blue cat on the back page is a hint (or maybe this time Tom confined himself to the cat).

But the lack of support for the things Tom and his mum say actually adds to interest – as readers we feel a bit like we are peeking in on friendly family. That’s a good thing because it means we can see ourselves in place of Tom and his mum – and maybe even the cat!

It's a nicely illustrated book – the words are partly written as prose and partly as speech bubbles. This can make for slightly difficult reading aloud and it helps if you point to the person talking while you read aloud the words they are saying. 

THE TIME IT TOOK TOM was written by Nick Sharratt, illustrated by Stephen Tucker.