Monday, August 31, 2009

The Pocket Guide to Mischief

Biblio Bits The Pocket Guide to Mischief by Bart King, Gibbs Smith, 2008 (ISBN 9781423603665)
Reading Level/Interest Age 9-14
Genre Nonfiction

Plot Summary
This small volume is full of all sorts of fun, with chapter headings such as "Practical jokes inspired by ancient Rome," "Mischief of the Rich and Famous," and "Mischievous foods." The content is diverse, with information about why bellyflops hurt, the best comebacks for various situations, how to interact with your elders, some good insult-worthy vocabulary ("flocculent," "lurdane," and "mucopurulent," to name a few), and practical jokes. The tone is breezy and conversational, and even somewhat snarky. There's a bibliography of mischief-worthy titles at the back for further reading.

Critical Evaluation
This title will be thoroughly appealing to a broad age range (into adult!) for its value on the playground or by the watercooler. The vocabulary and miscellanea are cleverly aimed at the tween audience who may have also enjoyed The Dangerous Book for Boys and the Daring Book for Girls. The layout is accesible, with frequent sidebars and lists that relate to the chapter. Local tweens describe this book as a page-turner and one in which they didn't want to miss any of the tidbits included. Adults should be wary of readers of this title, as some of the skills they may acquire through reading it are not necessarily ones we might want them to have!

Reader's Annotation
All the tricks, insults, and comebacks you'll ever need in one handy, pocket-sized book! Fun for all ages.

Author Information
Wow. You can read more about Bart King and his family (eight siblings), his wife, in-laws and spouse-in-laws at his author website than you probably want to know. It's funny reading, just like the book. King grew up in Sebastopol, CA but now resides in Portland, OR with his wife, Lynn. He has written several other books in the Pocket Guide series, including The Pocket Guide to Magic, The Pocket Guide to Games, and more.

Challenge issues
Some might react negatively to the tone of this book (which is not always respectful), as well as to some of the tricks and mischief inside its covers. There shouldn't be any unpleasant surprises, however, given the title of the book.

Booktalking Ideas
So many potentials, but I would select it for a booktalk in which I highlighted books I would like to have along with me if I were to be stranded in a boring airport, a desert island, or an elevator. Great miscellany, like the Guinness Book of World Records, but funnier. It would also be a perfect selection to have in an April Fool's Day themed booktalk, or just jokes and humor in general.

Curriculum Ties
As mentioned previously, this title has bits of history, biography, vocabulary, and cross-cultural connections sprinkled liberally throughout the text. But mainly, it's for fun and quirky edification.

Why this book?
An adorable size and vintage look drew my eye immediately. It seemed like the perfect sort of book to browse or thumb through, though others who have enjoyed it tell me that have read it cover-to-cover. A terrific selection for a reluctant reader who might not have found a niche with non-fiction yet, because the tone is so captivating and the information is delivered so well. I recommended it today to a reader who was looking to purchase a gift for a 9 year-old boy; when I described this book to her, she told me I'd nailed the perfect gift for him.


Rockport Public Library owns?


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