Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups: The Second File

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Urgent!It's happened again!

David Wisniewski has completed another daring raid into the vault of parent rules. Within these forbidden pages lurk the real reasons why grown-ups want you to brush your teeth, eat your breakfast, and clean under your bed. The truth has been hidden for centuries, but the time of mystery is over.

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Overview

Urgent!It's happened again!

David Wisniewski has completed another daring raid into the vault of parent rules. Within these forbidden pages lurk the real reasons why grown-ups want you to brush your teeth, eat your breakfast, and clean under your bed. The truth has been hidden for centuries, but the time of mystery is over.

Grab a flashlight! Get under cover! It's time for ...

The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups!
The Second File

A humorous revelation of the real reasons why adults tell children to do things, such as "Eat your vegetables," "Comb your hair," and "Don't blow bubbles in your milk."

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Caldecott-winning author David Wisniewski turns parental admonishments and lessons on hygiene into silly bits of fun by making up wacky explanations for why such rules should be followed. In The Second File, Wisniewski picks up where The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups left off, tackling such everyday grown-up dictates as washing your feet, brushing your teeth, cleaning under your bed, and avoiding junk food. But young readers no longer have to accept the boring explanations grown-ups provide for why these things are important. Wisniewski puts his own amusing and twisted spin on the rules and reports on them using a secret-agent format that only adds to the fun.

Young readers will no doubt delight in learning about the secret society of creatures that can evolve from dust bunnies lurking beneath a bed and how intrepid explorer Dr. Harold Wilberforce launched a series of disastrous dust bunny expeditions. Equally intriguing are rabble-rousing teeth who throw loud parties, have brawls in the streets, and stage regular uprisings if they aren't brushed regularly. Then there are the vegetable gardens that grow up between your toes if your feet aren't washed, which not only makes you look ridiculous but pretty much guarantees you won't be able to find shoes that fit. Grown-Up Rule #51 says you shouldn't stay in the bathtub too long, but it's not because you'll get cold like the grown-ups tell you. It's because you might develop the dreaded syndrome TBS. And Wisniewski takes great delight in explaining what TBS is and providing some comical examples of people who fell victim to this curse.

Wisniewski's colorful cut-paper illustrations give the pages in The Second File a wonderful three-dimensional look that's highly eye-catching. In addition, the book's top-secret file format offers plenty of page-turning cliff-hangers and amusing mental images (the descriptions of Wisniewski's disguises and missions ought to generate more than a few giggles.) Learning about neatness and good hygiene should always be this much fun. (Beth Amos)

Publishers Weekly
David Wisniewski continues his conspiracy theory in The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups: The Second File, explaining to youngsters the "real reason" that grown-ups want them to eat a good breakfast (otherwise your stomach "throws a tantrum") and not watch TV late at night ("so the actors can take a break!"). Once again, Wisniewski's meticulous cut-paper illustrations underscore his comical words of caution. (Aug.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Wisniewski continues his attempt to "crack the greatest conspiracy of all time: namely, that grown-ups purposely hide the real reasons why parents tell children to do things!" Donning his trench coat, he delves into such health and hygiene statements as "Wash your feet," "Don't eat junk food," "Don't stay in the bathtub too long," and "Don't watch TV late at night." He continues with the spy theme he used in the first book and introduces each section with a torn page that says, "Top secret—Classified." He lists the rule, the official reason given by adults and finally, the beginning of the truth. His reasons are wildly imaginative, and some work better than others. There are a number of allusions to contemporary television programs. Wisniewski imbues his cut paper illustrations with a humorous cartoon-style. The facial exaggeration works well. Is that a self-portrait of the author as the tooth fairy? Be sure to look closely! Those who enjoyed the first book will find plenty of laughs here as well. 2001, HarperCollins,
— Sharon Salluzzo
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
The title is perched on a yellow cover that resembles a top-secret file. The back flap tells about the author with statements like, he's "old enough to know better, between 3'6" and 6'3". Inside, Wisniewski delivers on his promise when he reveals the secrets behind eight worn out adult sayings. For example, Grown-up Rule #31: Eat your vegetables. The Official Reason is that they are good for you. With a quick page turn, kids can learn the truth. You see, once meat-eating vegetables ruled the earth and now you've got to eat vegetables to "keep the little horrors fearful and demoralized and to protect modern civilization." Wisniewski trademark paper-cut collages are bright, colorful and as zany as the stories. This book will draw children like a magnet.
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Ah, the Caldecott! When you win it, you can finally get away with writing and illustrating what you really want to. That's seems to be what Wisniewski has done, in this iconoclastic little tome that pushes both the publishing envelope and the parental button. Bet you didn't know the real reason for Grown-up Rule #37: Drink Plenty of Milk! Hint: it has to do with a top-secret government program and some cows you just gotta meet to believe. In the age of the 32-page picture book, here are a hefty 45 pages of text and illustration. Wisniewski's trademark cut-paper collages are turned to a refreshingly wicked purpose, and aimed squarely at the 8 to 10 crowd, who ought to lap it up like the proverbial milk.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-The intrepid debunker of parental restraints returns in this sequel to The Secret Knowledge of Grown-ups (Lothrop, 1998). Continuing his quest to unearth the truth behind such rules as "brush your teeth," "clean under your bed," and "don't swallow your gum," the author risks life and limb as he dons various disguises, eludes determined pursuers, and cracks intricate security systems. He reveals the true and truly far-fetched explanations (brushing reminds your teeth to stay put, cleaning under your bed prevents the growth of dust bunnies, and swallowing gum will inflate your stomach and you'll float away) in brief vignettes that draw from fractured history, convoluted science, and just plain absurdity. Meticulous cut-paper illustrations extend the silliness of the premise as molars riot, dust bunnies attack, and flatulent GIs prepare an invasion. While wordy for a picture book, lots of the text appears in boxed asides and picture captions. The humor sometimes tries too hard and exclamation points proliferate as the predominantly male cast delivers puns, jokes, and (sometimes gross) mayhem. Many of the jibes, while clever, will be best appreciated by adults and a total of eight "secrets" makes for a bulky and lengthy second file. Buy where the first is popular.-Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Since the publication of "The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups "(1998), Wisniewski has been dodging the law while continuing his lonely crusade to expose the truth behind those meaningless grown-up rules. The world may rest easy; he has resurfaced long enough to bring more of this duplicity to light. Disguised as the Tooth Fairy, he discovers that the real reason we should brush our teeth is to keep them from starting tooth riots; disguised as a feather duster, he discovers that the real reason we should clean under our beds is to prevent the proliferation of killer dust bunnies; disguised as a mop, he discovers that the real reason we shouldn't stay in the bath too long is to keep from going down the drain; and so on. The dauntless secret agent employs his X-acto knife to great effect, detailing the prunification of a sleeping bather and the potbellied trapezoid of the four cruddy food groups (salt, grease, sugar, and fat, which when ingested in excess result in brainjacking-shades of the Twinkie defense). Other media occasionally enhance the cut-paper collages; the killer dust bunny, for instance, is a marvelous menace made up of what appears to be actual dust, with gold foil teeth and Cheerio eyes. Those familiar with the first expose of adult rule-making will recognize that there is absolutely nothing new about this offering; it simply repeats the format and formula of its predecessor while losing some of its zany freshness. It is also only nominally subversive: while couched fancifully, the description of Ginger Vitus's depredations on teeth and gums would be at home in any dentist's office. Still, middle-grade kids seem to eat this stuff up, and this will likely move briskly,especially where the first has had success. "(Picture book. 7-11)"
ALA Booklist
“Eye popping and rib tickling. Some of the ‘secret knowledge’ is inspired and laugh-out-loud funny. ”
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Kids who enjoyed the first one will likely discover enough silliness to please them in this top-secret sequel. ”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688178550
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/28/2001
  • Series: Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups Series
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.64 (w) x 11.42 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author

David Wisniewski passed away in his sleep, from an unknown illness, on September 11, 2002. Born in 1953, he had all-too-brief a life and leaves behind his lovely wife, Donna, and their two children, Ariana and Alexander. 

Just this week David had seen the finished books for Halloweenies, and he was so happy with how it turned out.  

He will, of course, be remembered as the 1997 Caldecott Medalist for his 6th book, The Golem. But perhaps even more, he'll be known for his off-beat postmodern humor, seen in Tough Cookie, The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups, and Halloweenies. Everyone who knew him loved his wit and his vibrancy; he was also quite an inspirational speaker. We will miss him.  

In His Own Words:

My mom taught me to draw in first grade. Nothing fancy. Just how to put circles and ovals together for form "bubble men." It was a wonderful introduction to drawing and a terrific gateway to action and proportion. But third grade, I was one of the class artists.

That's when I started reading comic books, especialy the Marvel superheroes created by Stan Lee. My sketchpads became full of The Fantastic Four, Spider-man, The Mighty Thor, and X-Men. Comic books were also my first introduction to dynamic storytelling. Nothing's more dramatic than colossal struggles between good and evil with entire galaxies at stake!

This enthusiasm led directly to Classic Comics, simplified versions of fantasy masterpieces like Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. It wasn't long before I became an avid reader, willing to tackle the work of Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and A.E. van Vogt.

During high school I became interested in the performing arts as well as the visual When I couldn't afford more than one semester of college, I signed up for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. After training for two months, I clowned with Ringling for two seasons (1973-74), then performed with the country's largest tent show, Circus Vargas, in 1975.

After the circus, I was hired by my future wife, Donna, to perform with a puppet theatre. We married in 1976 and started our own company, Clarion Shadow Theatre, in 1980. Shadow puppetry was our specialty, wherein flat, jointed figures move against a screen illuminated with rear-projected scenery. Although I didn't know it at the time, shadow puppetry trained me to do picture books. Cutting out shadow puppets and projected scenery taught me how to use an X-Acto knife. The shadow screen was the same shape as an open book. Adapting legends and folktales into scripts taught me how to write.

When our chidren - Ariana and Alexander - were born, touring became impossible, so I adapted my cutting skills to illustration. After four years of freelancing for newspapers and magazines, I created my first picture book. The Warrior and the Wise Man (1989) looks very much like a shadow puppet play.

My cut-paper style matured with ensuing books. I learned to construct more detailed people and scenery, plus how to layer the artwork, creating the shadows that give depth to the pages. Happily, my books have been well received, culminating in the 1997 Caldecott Medal for Golem.

After six epic adventures, I wanted to try something comedic that would draw on my circus and puppet theatre experience. The Secret Knowledge of Grown-ups was the result, a silly conspiracy spoof about the real reasons why parents tell kids to do things.

David Wisniewski passed away in his sleep, from an unknown illness, on September 11, 2002. Born in 1953, he had all-too-brief a life and leaves behind his lovely wife, Donna, and their two children, Ariana and Alexander. 

Just this week David had seen the finished books for Halloweenies, and he was so happy with how it turned out.  

He will, of course, be remembered as the 1997 Caldecott Medalist for his 6th book, The Golem. But perhaps even more, he'll be known for his off-beat postmodern humor, seen in Tough Cookie, The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups, and Halloweenies. Everyone who knew him loved his wit and his vibrancy; he was also quite an inspirational speaker. We will miss him.  

In His Own Words:

My mom taught me to draw in first grade. Nothing fancy. Just how to put circles and ovals together for form "bubble men." It was a wonderful introduction to drawing and a terrific gateway to action and proportion. But third grade, I was one of the class artists.

That's when I started reading comic books, especialy the Marvel superheroes created by Stan Lee. My sketchpads became full of The Fantastic Four, Spider-man, The Mighty Thor, and X-Men. Comic books were also my first introduction to dynamic storytelling. Nothing's more dramatic than colossal struggles between good and evil with entire galaxies at stake!

This enthusiasm led directly to Classic Comics, simplified versions of fantasy masterpieces like Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. It wasn't long before I became an avid reader, willing to tackle the work of Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and A.E. van Vogt.

During high school I became interested in the performing arts as well as the visual When I couldn't afford more than one semester of college, I signed up for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. After training for two months, I clowned with Ringling for two seasons (1973-74), then performed with the country's largest tent show, Circus Vargas, in 1975.

After the circus, I was hired by my future wife, Donna, to perform with a puppet theatre. We married in 1976 and started our own company, Clarion Shadow Theatre, in 1980. Shadow puppetry was our specialty, wherein flat, jointed figures move against a screen illuminated with rear-projected scenery. Although I didn't know it at the time, shadow puppetry trained me to do picture books. Cutting out shadow puppets and projected scenery taught me how to use an X-Acto knife. The shadow screen was the same shape as an open book. Adapting legends and folktales into scripts taught me how to write.

When our chidren - Ariana and Alexander - were born, touring became impossible, so I adapted my cutting skills to illustration. After four years of freelancing for newspapers and magazines, I created my first picture book. The Warrior and the Wise Man (1989) looks very much like a shadow puppet play.

My cut-paper style matured with ensuing books. I learned to construct more detailed people and scenery, plus how to layer the artwork, creating the shadows that give depth to the pages. Happily, my books have been well received, culminating in the 1997 Caldecott Medal for Golem.

After six epic adventures, I wanted to try something comedic that would draw on my circus and puppet theatre experience. The Secret Knowledge of Grown-ups was the result, a silly conspiracy spoof about the real reasons why parents tell kids to do things.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2007

    TOP SECRET (SHH!)

    this book was great with all the colorfulness but, I was sad when it was over so soon. The 'truths' were logical and I even believe that they may be real ok ok they definitely made me a little wary of my vegetables

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2006

    Its spicy!

    This book is funny because it has funny pictures. This story is about grown ups rules. This book has different stories about grown-ups. I like this book because it has funny sentences.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2005

    OUTSTANDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If I could I'd give The Secret Knowledge of Grown-ups:The Second File 100 stars for children's books.It's got alot of funny jokes like don't swallow your gum.David Wisniewki is a great children's book writer.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2005

    outstanding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If I could I'd give The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups: The Second File 100 stars.I think that he's a great children's book writer.He does good jokes like 'don't swallow you'r gum.'

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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