Monday, May 19, 2014

Who Done It? The Mischievians by William Joyce


So..., what else is new?

Do keys, and tomorrow's homework, the good scissors, that other sock, and the remote all seem to disappear mysteriously?

Of course they do. Everybody knows that.

But two kids decide to find out They pen as message, send it off via helium balloon, and instead of receiving a reply from above, the ground opens up and drops them into subterranean laboratory of Dr. Maximillian Fortisque Robinson Zooper. Ask him anything, he suggests.

Okay, Dr. Zooper, here's a biggie. Sometimes I know I've done my homework, but the next morning, I can't find it.  Sometimes, I turn it in, but then my teacher can't find it.

Doctor Zooper explains that it's not your dog that did it. It's creatures called the Homework Eaters. Homework Eaters are dumb as the proverbial rock, but so hungry for knowledge that they will eat anybody's homework, no matter how messy or boring it is. Ancient creatures, they crunched homework right off cave walls in the paleolithic days and chomped up Babylonian clay tablets before paper homework was invented. Does that mean that when the world finally goes paperless (as promised), will the Homework Eaters go extinct?

Not exactly.

"Homework Eaters have evolved into File Suckers," says Dr. Zooper.

With all the knowledge in  the world's computers, will that mean that they will suck up all the facts and finally become so intelligent that they will take over the world? Ah..., YES.

"I think that happened last Tuesday," says Dr. Zooper.

Dr. Zooper know where the television, stereo, and garage door remotes go. It's the Remote Toter to blame. He also knows where annoying things come from. Where do blisters come from? It's all the Mista Blistas that live in our shoes that do it. How do songs get stuck in your head? It's the Ear Worm.

And for the BIG question that has plagued mankind for more than a century?

"Why does no one ever admit that they used all the toilet paper?"

"Humans never use all the toilet paper. It's the Endroller who unfurls toilet paper like there's no tomorrow!"

This and many another question that has  baffled mankind are answered in William Joyce's hilarious The Mischievians (Atheneum Books, 2013). As always with Joyce's imaginative out-of-the-box books, there is many a surprise with each page turn. Adorning the question-and-answer format, Joyce's guilty creatures are a weird lot, the Sock Stalker, a fiendishly grinning ball of yarn equipped with a long hook, the tiny black Sticker, with his longbow and needle-like arrow, and the Booger Hanger, about whose greenish body the less said the better. Even the book's design is unusual, with its faded, faux shelf-worn cover which makes it look like a copyright 1953 publication, and its title page note card hidden way back on the inside back cover. Not your average book by any means, this one has appeal for imaginative primary and middle graders. "Clever choices abound!" says Publishers Weekly.

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