The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler

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The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler
Tyke Tiler cover.jpg
Front cover of first edition
Author Gene Kemp
Illustrator Carolyn Dinan (1977)
Kenny McKendry (1994)
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Cricklepit
Genre Children's adventure novel, gender bender, day school story, comedy
Publisher Faber and Faber
Publication date
7 February 1977
Media type Print (hardback and paperback)
Pages 118 pp (first edition)
ISBN 0571109667
OCLC 3224554
LC Class PZ7.K3055 Tu[1]
Followed by Gowie Corby Plays Chicken

The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler is a children's day-school adventure novel by Gene Kemp, first published by Faber in 1977 with illustrations by Carolyn Dinan. Set at Cricklepit Combined School in southern England, a fictional primary school for ages 4 to 12, it inaugurated the series of seven books (1977 to 2002) that is sometimes called the Cricklepit Combined School series.[2][3] According to a later publisher, "Kemp is widely acclaimed for giving the school story a new lease of life" with The Turbulent Term and its Cricklepit sequels.[4]

Kemp won the annual Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book by a British subject, and one of the "Other Awards" from Children's Rights Workshop.[4][a]

The author adapted the novel as a play, published under the same title by Oxford in 2003 (Oxford Playscripts, ISBN 019831499X), "tailored to support the KS3 Framework for Teaching English".[5]

A television adaptation was made by Yorkshire Television and broadcast on ITV in 1988 as part of The Book Tower.[6]

Plot summary[edit]

The book tells the story of its main characters' final term at Cricklepit Combined School. It is principally narrated by 'Tyke' Tiler, a bold and athletic twelve-year-old with the reputation of being a troublemaker. Tyke's best friend Danny Price has a speech defect, which means Tyke often has to translate for him. Danny has a helpless air which leads him to depend on his often exasperated friend. When Tyke overhears some teachers discussing the possibility of Danny going to a special school next year, the only option seems to be to help Danny to cheat in the assessment test – a plan which naturally backfires.

When Tyke is off sick, Danny is accused of stealing a gold watch and runs away. It is up to Tyke to persuade the headmaster that Martin and Kevin are the guilty ones, and to find Danny.

On the last day of school, Tyke decides to emulate Thomas Tiler, a relative, in climbing up the outside of the school and ringing the school bell, which has been silent for thirty years. When this ends in disaster the headmaster says: "That child has always appeared to me to be on the brink of wrecking this school, and as far as I can see, has, at last, succeeded."

Up to the end of the penultimate chapter the narrative is written without directly revealing the protagonist's gender. The daring nature of Tyke's exploits often leads readers to assume Tyke is a boy, though there are a few scattered clues to the contrary. The story ends with the revelation that Tyke is a girl, her full name being Theodora Tiler.


  • Theodora "Tyke" Tiler, the narrator
  • Danny Price, Tyke's best friend
  • Ian Pitt, "Pitthead"
  • Linda Stoatway
  • Patsy Drew
  • Martin Kneeshaw, "Kneebags", a bully, son of Mr Tiler's political rival
  • Kevin Simms, "Slime", Martin's friend, another creep
  • Sandra Hines
  • Will Merchant, "Sir", Tyke's form master, a keen historian and the narrator of the final chapter
  • The Headmaster, "Chief Sir"
  • Miss Bonn, "Bonfire", another teacher
  • Mrs Somers, the Deputy Head, Tyke's deadliest enemy
  • Jenny Honeywell, a pretty student teacher
  • Mr Buggitt, "Buggsy", the caretaker
  • Mr Tiler, "Dad", a local councillor
  • Mrs Tiler, "Mum", a nurse
  • Beryl Tiler, "Berry", Tyke's older sister
  • Stanley Tiler, "Spud", Tyke's older brother
  • Crumble, Tyke's beloved dog


Each chapter begins with a suitably juvenile joke, such as:

Q: "Why do you forget a tooth once it's been pulled?"
A: "It goes right out of your head!"

For her play based on the book Gene Kemp created a comic character, Harlequin the Joker, to tell the jokes.


In addition to the children's real-world adventures there is an emphasis throughout the book on chivalry and heroism. A student teacher reads T. H. White's The Once and Future King to the class, which they perform as a pantomime play, and they later re-enact a local battle between Saxons and Normans which appears to be the 1068 siege of Exeter. Both main characters are excited by the stories; Danny in particular is pleased to be compared to Sir Galahad, "His strength was as the strength of ten, because his heart was pure", and he resolves to live up to the comparison.

Literary significance[edit]

According to Mary Cadogan in Twentieth-Century Children's Writers, "This truly innovatory book gives new dimensions to the day-school story, and an authoritative boost to feminism. More convincingly than any other juvenile book it demolishes many accepted ideas about aspirational and experiential differences between boys and girls."[4] She added: "The exactly appropriate first person narrative is punctuated by consciously dire playground rhymes and jokes which sharpen its pacy succinctness."[7]

The book appeared in the Puffin Modern Classics series from 1979 onwards, with illustrations by Kenny McKendry and an afterword by Judith Elkin.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Other Awards (for 1974 to 1987 publications) "opposed existing children's literature awards which were perceived as uncritical and conservative in their selection process. The judges ... tended to select texts "which were politically correct and reflected the world as it really was, whilst maintaining a high literary standard".
    • Mieke K. T. Desmet, Babysitting the Reader: Translating English Narrative Fiction for Girls Into Dutch (1946–1995), Peter Lang, 2007, p. 257. ISBN 3039111477. Including a quotation from Ruth Allen, Children's Book Prizes: An evaluation and history of major awards for children's book in the English-speaking world, Ashgate Publishing, 1998, p. 129. Retrieved 2012-07-26 from Google Books.


  1. ^ "The turbulent term of Tyke Tiler" (first edition). Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  2. ^ "Reading Series Fiction: From Arthur Ransome to Gene Kemp. By Victor Watson. New York: RoutledgeFalmer, 2000. Reviewed by David Rudd." Children's Literature Association Quarterly 26:3 (Fall 2001), pp. 154–155. Excerpt at Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  3. ^ "Series: Cricklepit School". Library Thing. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "Gene Kemp". Authors. PenguinBooks. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  5. ^ "The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler" (New Oxford Playscripts)". Bookseller description. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  6. ^ The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler. BFI Film & TV Database. Retrieved 15 November 2012
  7. ^ Twentieth-Century Children's Writers, ed. Tracy Chevalier, St James Press, 3rd edition, 1989, p. 517.
  8. ^ Information taken from 1994 reprint.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Thunder and Lightnings
Carnegie Medal recipient
Succeeded by
The Exeter Blitz