The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kevin Cornell
Miles is moving to Yawnee Valley along with his parents, a place with larger spaces, bigger lawns, and lots of cows. He had been known in his last school as the prankster, but upon arrival at his first day of school Miles discovers that there is another prankster already at work. That prankster has put the principal’s car at the top of the stairs to the entrance to the school, blocking it so that no one can enter. So Principal Barkin is forced to have each and every kid at school climb through his car to enter the building. Of course, he could also have had them use the back door… Miles is introduced to Niles, a model student who is assigned as his buddy. Niles is immensely annoying, perfect in class, kissing up to the teacher. But NIles is also the prankster who pulled off the car stunt. As the two become rivals, a pranking war begins, one that involves insects, pie, forgeries, and lots of cake. Who will reign supreme at the school and will Principal Barkin survive it?
This book, which I assume is the beginning of a new series, will be adored by kids. It has exactly the right tone and sense of humor. The two rival boys are a delightful contrast to one another, yet equally likeable and one isn’t quite sure who to root for so you end up rooting for the prank to be great. And what pranks they are. Principals may not enjoy the humor here, but it is much more about this one school and a principal who loses his cool regularly than about any real prank being pulled in a real school setting. The pranks are elaborate enough that no one is going to be taking real cues from this book.
Cornell’s illustrations add to the humor. I particularly enjoy the cows, the cow facts done as a list, and the rubber chickens. The book has a wonderful wildness to it, an edginess of a prank about to go wrong, that is also reflected in the zany art. Reluctant readers will enjoy the breaking up of the text into manageable chunks.
Get this into the hands of fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and those who are outgrowing Captain Underpants. Appropriate for ages 7-10.
Reviewed from ARC received from Abrams Books.