The Pocket Guide to Mischief
Gibbs Smith, Publisher (2008)
Reviewed by Avery Largent (age 9) for Reader Views (4/08)
“The Pocket Guide to Mischief,” by Bart King, truly is a pocket-sized guide to pulling pranks and making mischief. It includes facts and humorous stories about people who played jokes on others in history. Bart King has a witty writing style, and he sure knows his facts about mischief!
When I was reading this book, every few paragraphs I would giggle out loud at some prank or trickery done, even by a very important person. Some famous pranksters were Calvin Coolidge (a former president), Sidd Finch (a baseball player), and even Bill Clinton’s presidential staff! Bart King must have known — and studied — a lot about mischief. I particularly liked learning about Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt always suspected that people were so nervous to meet him that they didn’t listen to what he said. So he played a ridiculous prank to see if they were listening. When he met someone new, he always shook their hand, saying, “I murdered my Grandmother this morning.” No one ever said a word about it; they just smiled! I say, what president would do that?
Also, Bart King must have been an expert in grossology. Some pranks are disgusting, and I suggest not reading certain parts at the dinner table. Keep this in mind when you read the part about making your own paper — yuck! However, lots of children will like this book because of its sometimes gross pranks, and I must say I enjoyed reading some myself.
The only real drawback to “The Pocket Guide to Mischief” is that even though the author tries to set standards for what is acceptable mischief and what is not, throughout the book there are some almost evil pranks and jokes. Some cause pain and can be hateful to the reader; others are disrespectful to grownups. One chapter, entitled “Oldies But Goodies,” even suggests pranks to play on grandparents! It seems extremely rude to hurt, anger, or trick elderly people.
Overall, I think that “The Pocket Guide to Mischief” is a well-written, funny book. I like Bart King’s writing style, and even if it is gross in spots, hey, sometimes a kid needs a bit of that kind of thing. I like its purpose and ideas, and it makes a great book for a kid to have fun with. I would recommend this to my friends, with a warning about the few gross parts and a plea to not play mean tricks on their grandparents. I can picture my friends being sucked into this book, making their parents need to shout to pull them from their trance-like, unable-to-stop-reading state. It is a great book to stow in your back pocket…and start making some mischief!