Elementary: Trends Older

The Terrible Two

Mac Barnett and Jory John





What happens when a self-proclaimed “school’s biggest prankster” has to move from his cool beach-side home to the perfectly-named Yawnee Valley, filled with boring cows? (Yawnee Valley is so boring that “counting moos is a popular pastime.”) Well, it sure doesn’t feel like a “fresh start” to Miles Murphy. But it is an opportunity to break out his pranking notebook and victimize a whole new school full of unsuspecting goats (pranking lingo for targets). What to try first…? The Ghost Prank? The Missing Front Tooth Prank? Operation Soggy Homework? With the boring people in this boring town ripe for the pranking, Miles might be able to salvage the year after all…

That plan seems fine until Miles discovers that Yawnee Valley Science and Letters Academy already has a prankster, and a pretty wily one at that. Wily enough to park the principal’s car at the top of the front stairs of the school, right in front of the main entrance.

So, what will it be? An all-out prank war – new guy vs. Yawnee Valley’s best? Or, even better, a pranking alliance?!

With a pranking nemesis-turned-ally, an oafish bully, and a blundering principal, Miles’s fresh start might just turn out perfect.

Jory John and Mac Barnett bring their wry wit and middle school sensibilities to this hilarious – if somewhat subversive – tale. It is peppered with cow facts: “Cows have 360-degree panoramic vision. Want to sneak up on a cow? You can’t. They see you.” And it turns out there’s even a code to pranking: “The goat has to deserve it.”

Kevin Cornell’s illustrations amplify the humor. The cow portraits alone are worth opening the book. If you are looking for a book that shows the virtue of teamwork through a decidedly unvirtuous lens, The Terrible Two might be just be what you need to provoke and enliven your school community. And if the lesson has legs, then your students will want to explore the rest of The Terrible Two series, now four books strong.

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