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Posted July 30, 2009
Reviewed by K. Osborn Sullivan for TeensReadToo.com
As the title suggests, MISCHIEF MAKER'S MANUAL is a how-to guide for kids who like to cause a little mayhem. It includes set-up details (make a plan, find a partner, etc.) and step-by-step instructions for carrying out specific pranks. My favorite parts were the tales about actual pranks that people have pulled off. The book demonstrates how a successful prank can be a thing of beauty.
MISCHIEF MAKER'S MANUAL contains clever tidbits for not only the budding prankster, but anyone who is attracted to a life of crime. For instance, it explains that people whose appearance attracts attention will be suspects when any mischief occurs. Therefore, if you're about to pull a prank (or do anything else that you don't want to get busted for), it's a good idea to blend in. If you dress like a clean-cut member of the Young Republicans Club, no one will suspect you of wrongdoing. Who knows? If you're clean-cut enough, you might even accidentally get elected to Congress. And wouldn't that be an excellent prank?
The book offers information and ideas about a wide variety of pranks, gags, and hoaxes. You can learn where to buy fireworks, how to photocopy a giant picture of a butt, disgusting recipes like hot sauce-flavored tarts, and the art of making a catapult. There's also a web site for readers where they can find resources to help pull off pranks and register their progress toward becoming Master Mischief Makers.
I got a kick out of this book and took away a number of funny ideas from it. The part of my personality that includes a sense of humor thinks this is a terrific resource for kids. At the same time, I can't shake the concern that the MISCHIEF MAKER'S MANUAL provides plans for some questionable, if not downright illegal, activities. Yes, the book is careful to start with a code about what kinds of pranks one should avoid. There are similar warnings interspersed throughout the book, including the importance of not hurting animals or destroying property. At the end, it even lists possible consequences should a prankster get caught.
Still, I'm not wild about telling someone, "Don't do this. But here's how to do it, and it's hilarious!" For instance, ideas for prank phone calls are provided, including instructions for disabling caller I.D. so your victim doesn't know who you are. According to reports on the Internet (so the accuracy is questionable), some people claim they had been charged with harassment as a result of making annoying calls. Is it ridiculous for prank victims to get so worked up over a phone call? Maybe, but people get worked up over all sorts of odd things, and it's hard to predict what will set somebody off....
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Posted July 6, 2009
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