The Terrible Two's Last Laugh

The Terrible Two's Last Laugh
Author(s)
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
8+
Release Date
December 24, 2018
ISBN
978-1419725654
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It’s Miles and Niles’s final year at Yawnee Valley Science and Letters Academy, and the Terrible Two have one goal: an epic prank. Something big, something brilliant, something that will leave a lasting legacy at their school. Which should be easy-peasy for these experts, especially now that their principal has gone from archnemesis to pranking protégé.
But their smooth sailing gets downright bumpy when they find out that the new superintendent is none other than Bertrand Barkin, their principal’s father . . . and their sworn enemy. Now that Former Principal Barkin is Acting Superintendent Barkin, he has a first order of business: his long-promised revenge on the Terrible Two.
This rollicking finale to the bestselling series by Mac Barnett and Jory John will settle once and for all who—between quick wits and powerful fists—will have the last laugh.

Editor review

1 review
Don't try this at home!
Overall rating
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
4.0
Mile and Niles, pranksters extraordinaire, are back for their last year at their school. They start the year off right, with some mild shenanigans on the bus, and are somewhat surprised when Principal Barkin calls them into his office. For once, they are not in trouble; Barkin just wants their help in upping his own pranking skills, which he has been trying out, not very successfully, on the staff. This comes to a halt, however, when the superintendent of the school dies and the elder, former principal Barkin becomes the superintendent! Undeterred by the nimbus like bullying behavior of the youngest Barkin, Josh, Miles and Niles set out to pull as many amusing and sophisticated pranks as they can, including declaring a Bring Your Pet to School Day that is rather successful. Things can't always go on the way they have been, and the duo gets some bad news. Will the end of the school year mean the end of the Terrible Two?
Good Points
It is an all too common theme in middle grade literature to have the school principal be either a doofus or evil or both, and it was delightful to see Principal Barkin see the joy in pranking and seek advice from the best two practioneers of it! He had experienced some personal growth in the last book, but really comes in to his own here, even expressing admiration for the very first prank involving his hatch back. It would have been asking too much for Josh to also see the light, but my favorite part of this was Principal Barkin trying to come up with pranks that he could successful pull, and Miles and Niles instructing him on what "grace notes" to pranks would be!

The pictures capture the frenetic glee with which Miles and Niles go about their day, and add a depth to the characters. Superintendent Barkin's evil character is reinforced by the pictures of him in his striped suit, holding bolt cutters menancingly, and Miles and Niles friendship is shown in simple glimpses of them sitting under a tree or touching fingertips after a prank. There is even a light romance that is shown mainly through the pictures.

Yawnee Valley is a great town, and the descriptions of the local cows and small population are somewhat different than the typical middle grade novel setting. I'm not sure that any rural populations are going to be glad that their cows are painted with green and purple polka dots, but the tone of these novels is flippant and jovial enough to almost make me believe that they would find tourist opportunities to showcase these colorful animals.

Notebook novels are always a popular middle grade choice, and readers who have burned through Peirce's Big Nate, Berger's Lyttle Lies, Moore's King of the Bench series and Bergman and Scotts' Zits novelizations will enjoy reading about Miles and Niles exploits... and maybe even trying to recreate them!
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