The Terrible Two
Mac Barnett & Jory John
Kevin Cornell, illustrator
Abrams, 2015 217 pgs.
Get ready for laughs as veteran authors Barnett and Jory present the first installment in their new fiction/comic hybrid series. Notorious prankster Miles must relocate to a new rural town and school. On the first day he is greeted with the results of an ingenious prank; the entrance to the school being blocked by the bumbling principal's beloved car. Does he have competition as the school's top prankster? He sets off his first day on the wrong foot, being led around by school suck-up, Niles. Niles wants to be friends, but Miles resists. The only way to break into this new environment is to device a cunning prank. Miles sets one up, involving a birthday party of a fictitious person, where guests must bring presents, of which Miles intends to keep. The prank does not go as Miles has planned and a prankster rival emerges onto the playing field. The rival eventually reveals him/herself and invites Miles to team-up. Miles, who has always worked alone, resists and a prank war ensues. The prank war escalates until Miles is facing expulsion from school. Finally he gives in and a new pranking dream-team is born. The team plans an ingenious prank involving the bumbling principal, his not-so-nice son, and some of the gazillion cows grazing throughout the town. All's well that ends well, and readers will be anxiously awaiting the next installment to this hilarious series.
The Terrible Two is a cut above the usual humorous offerings for this age group. More cleaver than slap-stick, I found myself laughing out-loud at certain parts. That said, there is still enough "silly" to please even the most fickle fourth grader. The obvious audience is the Wimpy Kid crowd and it will especially appeal to male readers, although pretty much anybody (myself included) will enjoy this book. I had the pleasure of meeting the very funny authors at Book Expo last week. I told them I was about half way through the book and was enjoying it very much. They told me to stop reading cause they ran out of jokes about half way. That was obviously a joke because the book stays hilarious to the bitter end. The cartoon-like illustrations add to the fun and match the text perfectly. Plot twists, great characters, jokes, and righteous redemption abound in this first series entry. Are kids learning important life lessons? No, but who cares? They will eat this book up with a spoon and scream for the next installment.