cause it’s boring being so good all the time: M is for Mischief by Linda Ashman and Nancy Carpenter

#22 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.

Well now, let’s be naughty, shall we?

And while we’re at it, let’s throw in picky, offensive, rude, talky, quarrelsome, nosy, annoying, smelly, selfish, terrible times two, and shockingly untidy. And that’s just for starters.

Linda Ashman’s M is for Mischief: An A to Z of Naughty Children, features 26 alphabrats, each described in deliriously rollicking, alliterative rhyme. Compared to these kids, Pigpen’s immaculate, Eloise, angelic, Genghis Khan, mild mannered and polite (“May I take over your country, please?”). One would be hard-pressed to find a noisier, more irritating bunch of rugrats anywhere in the civilized world. Tsk, tsk.

I dare say, if any of these urchins showed up on my doorstep, I’d immediately pack my bags and flee! Definitely wouldn’t want Daphne, the magic marker maniac, doodling all over the walls, furniture, just about everything in sight, including her father’s face. As you can see from the cover image, she’s doodled all over this book, too.

I positively tremble at the thought of meeting Catastrophic Coco, Fiendish Frankie, Mischievous Martin, Nagging Nora, and Rude Ruby. I imagine I’d be able to smell Offensive Oscar, who shuns the bath, from miles away. I’d rather not befriend a boy coated in dirt, with ooze on his oxfords, oil on his shirt, and yesterday’s oatmeal still clinging to his chin, thankyouverymuch.

Disobedient and maladjusted though they may be, these are brats we love to hate. Oh, the vicarious thrill! It’s just so much fun observing them from a safe distance, so satisfying when some of them get their just desserts. Ashman has done a brilliant job with her poetic portraits. I love the indefatigable wordplay and how each poem riffs on the featured letter. “Picky Penelope” begs to be read aloud; it’s a prim, pungent, pimply, perky, puny, painful passel of perfection. Plus, there’s pie:

Lest I appear negligent in my responsibility to this blog, I must declare Gluttonous Griffin the most delicious miscreant of them all. How I admire a boy with a good appetite! Dare I say, it’s easy to see why he would want to gobble the gherkins, guzzle the gravy, and glug a few gallons of guava juice. Burp!


Props aplenty to Nancy Carpenter for her ink and mixed media collages, which propel riotous misbehavior to the moon and back. She gives new meaning to the words, “holy terror,” through posturing and hilarious facial expressions, deftly depicting the unbridled tornado of energy and intensity that is childhood. Young readers who relish in devilry, mayhem, and the delectable act of provoking polite society will ask for repeated servings of this comical cache of cautionary counsel. Highly recommended!

M IS FOR MISCHIEF: An A to Z of Naughty Children by Linda Ashman
illustrated by Nancy Carpenter,
(Dutton, 2008), PB for ages 4-8, 32 pp.
Source of book: library copy

♥ Check out Linda Ashman’s official website!

♥ Blog Reviews:

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Bees Knees Reads
Poetry for Children

**Spreads posted by permission, text copyright © 2008 Linda Ashman, illustrations © 2008 Nancy Carpenter, published by Dutton Children’s Books. All rights reserved.

 Certified authentic alphabetica. Handmade just for you with love and a heapin’ helping of bad.

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

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