A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Miles and Niles' pranks are intended to be funny and disruptive -- they "borrow" more than 100 cows and cause mayhem -- but they abide by a code of ethics that focuses on mirth, not malice: "to disrupt, but not destroy; to embarrass the dour and amuse the merry." Careful planning, observation, and research are essential to their work. By working together, they help teach each other and attain new heights.
Positive Role Models
Despite Miles' initial hostility, Niles is admiring and friendly. The pair ultimately work well together -- albeit for mischievous purposes -- and abide by a code of ethics that aims for humor without causing harm. Authority figures at school are cartoonishly silly. Parents are minimally present, though one shows considerable concern over bullying.
Violence & Scariness
School bully punches classmate and has history of nasty behavior, including forcing a kid to swallow rocks. Kid gets hit in the face with a pie.
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Products & Purchases
Passing mention of ChapStick, Wite-Out, and a certain Bic pen.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Terrible Two is a terrific collaboration from Mac Barnett (Extra Yarn), Jory John (All My Friends Are Dead), and Kevin Cornell (Count the Monkeys). No need to worry about aspiring pranksters getting too many ideas: Not only are the pranks absurdly over the top, but also the boys hew to a code of conduct that rejects doing any real damage. They do maintain, however, that their targets "have it coming," and they don't face consequences (other than Miles' mortification when he's upstaged). The poor principal is wonderfully absurd in his ambition and logic, with a few sympathetic notes.
Is It Any Good?
THE TERRIBLE TWO is an uproariously funny start to a new series for middle-grade readers. Miles and Niles are geeky heroes for the overlooked, underestimated, and pigeonholed, approaching their prank projects with admirable righteousness and professional pride. Everything about this book is over the top, from the 1,346 interesting things you may or may not know about cows to the great Cody Burr-Tyler prank and the five generations of Principal Barkins.
Beneath the hilarity, however, is a tender streak: a new kid who wants to fit in, a misfit who opts to make the most of his outsider role, and an authority figure both inspired and burdened by family expectations. Working seamlessly together, Mac Barnett and Jory John write with dry humor and insight into the world of schoolchildren. The pranks are inspired and genuinely fun (and not easy to replicate at home). Kevin Cornell's energetic illustrations are fabulous, particularly when they feature the balding, sharp-nosed, power-crazed principal.
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