I just read an advance copy of Sir John Hargrave’s Mischief Maker’s Manual, (due out June 11, ’09), a fine example of clever writing for kids and great book design. Here’s an example of the writing, from the introduction.
Welcome, Young Prankster.
You have taken the first step in your training. Congratulations.
This is a big day in your life. You’re about to learn everything from proper etiquette for Prank Phone Calls to usage of the classic Smoke Bomb. By studying the pages of M3, and memorizing its concepts, you’ll be transformed from a novice prankster into a mighty overlord of mayhem. By the end of your training, you will be able to conjure forth a mighty mountain of suds, make frogs rain from the sky, and make people fart on command.
Sir John Hargrave’s Mischief Maker’s Manual, or M3, is the ultimate handbook for pranks, practical jokes, stunts, tricks, and large-scale hoaxes.
This book is composed of 6 sections that will make kids beg their parents to buy it for them and adults want to buy it but not give it to their kids.
The Basics—The Prankster’s Code, How to Stay Out of Trouble, Looking Official …
Prank Moves—Classic Capers like The Apple-Pie Bed, Food Fun with a “Salt and Pepper Switcheroo, Bathroom Basics like Ketch-Up the Butt, and Sign Shenanigans
Do-It-Yourself Gags—Startling Contraptions, Water Devices, Bodily Noises, Projectiles, Surprise Food, or Exploding Devices
Experts Only—Pranks With Partners, Technology Tomfoolery, Publicizing Your Pranks, How To Hoax, Massive Mischief
Trouble—Confession, Worst Likely Scenario, Crime and Punishment, The Five Levels of Trouble
About M3—The Institute and Staff
I’m intrigued by the Erie Foaming Toilet Gag, in which the mischief maker converts a toilet into a giant volcano, using baking soda, vinegar, and an unsuspecting toilet flusher person. I wouldn’t find it all that cool if my powder room toilet foamed volcanic, because my floor is carpeted, but I’d be okay if it were anyone else’s toilet. I also liked the recipe for chocolate chip and tuna cookies. Yummy!
I said I like the writing. I also like the book design. It’s sized perfectly for boys and girls to conceal and carry, weighty enough to feel important, and illustrated like crazy. There are even four color fold out illustrations. The cover’s gold and brown colors are eye-catching and mature, and its embossed designs insist your inspect them closer.
I’d like to see parents and children reading Sir John Hargrave’s Mischief Maker’s Manual together. Imagine the fun they’d have sneaking and snarking and making safe messes and—get this—learning about science.