The Terrible Two Get Worse by Mac Barnett and Jory John, illustrated by Kevin Cornell, 2016
Children’s novel for grades 2-8: humor
In this sequel to last year’s bestseller The Terrible Two, Miles and Niles are back and ready for some new pranks. Niles, known as the school’s overachiever and “kids-up,” and Miles, the perpetual “new kid” together form a secret pranking organization. When picture day goes awry due to an especially silly prank, Principal Barkin loses his job and his replaced by his father, the previous Principal Barkin. Unfortunately for the terrible two, the new principal has a plan to fight the epidemic of pranking: ignore it. It’s not a successful prank, he reasons, if no one reacts. Now, Miles and Niles must find a way to design a prank that can’t possibly be ignored.
Filled with the same absurdity that made its predecessor so popular, this book will be sure to have humor-loving middle-grade boys (and some girls) snickering in their flashlight-lit blanket caves late at night. The characters are over-the-top, and the situations are somewhat unrealistic, but come just close enough to real life to let readers relate to the protagonists. Although the tone is generally goofy and irreverent, a few overly formal lines here and there just add to the humor. The third-person narrative switches between Miles’ perspective, Principal Barkin’s perspective, and an omniscient narrator.
I recommend it for a wide variety of ages because it’s written at about a third grade level, but will still hold appeal for older readers. In fact, this duology is perfect for reluctant readers as old as middle school. It’s a light-hearted read that most readers will get through pretty quickly, especially since it’s full of illustration. In my opinion, The Terrible Two Get Worse is not quite as good as the original, but we’ll let the kids be the judge of that.
Additional information for teachers and parents:
Lexile score: 650
ATOS book level: 4.5
AR points: 4.0
For estimates according to other level systems, refer to this chart and look around level R. Please keep in mind that these are only approximations. This particular book is an example of hi/lo book; that is, it’s a high-interest book written at a lower reading level, making it ideal for reluctant readers.