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The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John, illustrated by Kevin Cornell, 224 pp, RL 4

The Terrible Two is the first book in new series created by authors with serious pedigrees in kid's books and humor, Mac Barnett and Jory John and perfectly, illustrated by self-proclaimed "mediocre illustrator and humorist," Kevin Cornell. As a parent, bookseller, composer of personalized book lists and librarian, I get asked for funny books all the time. Unfortunately, writing (good) funny kids books is almost as hard as writing a really great mystery book for kids. Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid books have dominated this small genre of comedic kid's books (as well as the bulk of the kid's book market in general) and given kids a craving for more. A lot of authors have had a good ride on Kinney's coattails and, even better, Kinney's rising tide has floated some really great writer's boats, specifically the spectacular Tom Angleberger, and now Barnett and John, who were inspired by two childhood favorites of mine - John D. Fitzgerald's Great Brain series and the Steve Martin, Michael Caine movie remake, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Miles Murphy ar is new in town and very unhappy about his move to Yawnee Valley, a town that boasts a cow population that, if placed in a stack, would "extend to the moon and back." The one thing Miles has to console himself with is the knowledge that he was the reigning prankster at his old school and, no doubt, will be soon become known as the prankster at Yawnee Valley Science and Letters Academy. Armed with his unassuming composition book filled with his best pranks, he heads off to the first day of school. Before he even sets foot in the door, he is faced with a prank - Principal Barkin's economy car is wedged perfectly at the top of the steps, forcing students to crawl through the front seat to get in the building. And, once he is inside, Miles is confronted with the seemingly supercilious Niles Sparks, self-appointed safety patrol and School Helper, and Principal Barkin, who seems to think Miles is responsible for this prank.

Miles and Niles quickly become nemeses and enemies until Niles reveals his secret identity as school prankster and invites Miles to take the Prankster's Oath and join him. Miles resists at first, with some pretty funny results, but not for long. The Terrible Two team up for one brilliant, cow-themed prank, on April Fool's day, no less, that strikes more than one goat, what pranksters call their victims, and also someone who has it coming. The Terrible Two is packed with really fantastically (and, I must add for the sake of all parents reading this, largely impossible to imitate) creative pranks and some great characters that I can't wait to see evolve over the course of the series - especially classmate Holly Rash.

Source: Review Copy


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