Book Review: Merits of Mischief: The Bad Apple by T. R. Burns
The start of a mischievous new middle-grade series has trouble written all over it.Twelve-year-old Seamus Hinkle is a good kid with a perfect school record—until the day he accidentally kills his substitute teacher with an apple.
Seamus is immediately shipped off to a detention facility—only to discover that Kilter Academy is actually a school to mold future Troublemakers, where demerits are awarded as a prize for bad behavior and each student is tasked to pull various pranks on their teachers in order to excel. Initially determined to avoid any more mishaps, Seamus nonetheless inadvertently emerges as a uniquely skilled troublemaker. Together with new friends Lemon and Elinor, he rises to the top of his class while beginning to discover that Kilter Academy has some major secrets and surprises in store….
Proudly presenting Q&A with the kiddo, courtesy of my 10-year-old son, in which I ask my kiddo to describe a book he’s enjoyed recently and he gives his opinions, more or less unfiltered by mom.
NOTE: THIS Q&A CONTAINS SPOILERS! You have been warned.
Without further ado:
Q: What book do you want to talk about?
A: Merits of Mischief.
Q: What was it about?
A: It was about this boy, Seamus, who threw an apple at a teacher named Ms. Parsippany. He thought she died but she didn’t. He went to this reform school that was actually to teach the kids to be bad. Then he met lots of new friends and pranked all the teachers.
Q: What did you like about the book?
A: There were funny parts. I liked that the kids were supposed to get into trouble [at the school]. I like all the characters except Abe. My favorite character was Lemon, because he always makes fires. Also, because he stands up for people. My favorite teacher was Mystery, because he’s mysterious and really hard to prank.
Q: What didn’t you like about the book?
A: The Good Samaritans [mom’s note: the GS are the school’s police force], because they try to stop the kids from doing bad stuff.
Q: What did you think of the ending?
A: It was stupid. Seamus got an email from outside the school, but all along they said you couldn’t get emails from off-campus. Also, because you find out Ms. Parsipanny’s not really dead, and if she’s not, then Seamus shouldn’t have gotten sent to the school in the first place.
Q: Are you glad you read Merits of Mischief?
Q: How would you describe the book?
A: Funny, with lots of action.
Q: Who do you think would like the book?
A: I think most kids would like it. If they’re bad, they’ll love it!
Mom’s two cents: My kid and I are usually in sync about our read-aloud books. We tend to either both enjoy a book, or both be bored or unimpressed. Merits of Mischief was one of the rare books we’ve encountered where we had vastly different experiences reading it. I’ll be back with the mom point of view in a separate review. In terms of reading levels, this book is listed as ages 8 and up, although I think it would be a bit much for an 8-year-old.
So there you have it. We’ll be back with more book opinions from my kiddo, whenever I can get him to talk books again.