Nonfiction – Sir John Hargrave’s Mischief Maker’s Manual

Fake vomit, short sheets, and ex-lax brownies: what could be more fun? This book devotes itself to pranks and mischief of all kinds, with detailed instructions, recipes and suggestions for how to become a world-class mischief maker.

I liked that this book encouraged pranksters to think big. Why be a run-of-the-mill practical joker when, with a little more effort and creativity you can become a legend? Sure, there are lots of standard, almost traditional, practical jokes included here, but so are a lot of other, more clever ideas, along with a repeated encouragement to improvise and improve upon the concepts mentioned here.

Also to like: the prankster’s code, which matter-of-factly states that no prankster worth his or her salt is going to do something that could potentially damage another person, or even do permanent damage to property. As the book points out, very reasonably, if you get hurt then your pranking career is over, and if someone else gets hurt then not only is your career over, but you’re in tons of trouble. The same goes for property damage: adults are willing to chuckle and shake their heads over non-damaging pranks – particularly if they’re clever – but the minute that an adult has to pay to have something mended or replaced, then you are in Trouble with a capital T. I’ve seen other prank-type books that tried to get this message across and simply sounded like a preachy adult. This book manages to get the tone just right, so that becoming a safe joker simply makes more sense than risking possible harm. Even the ex-lax joke I mentioned in the first paragraph is really just making people think you’ve used ex-lax, not actually incorporating over-the-counter drugs into food.

Any aspiring practical jokers absolutely need to get their hands on this book, which is chock-full of useful suggestions and ingenious plans.

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