Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Mischievians

The Mischievians

William Joyce
Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
Simon and Schuster, 2013   ISBN: 978-1442473478

Two children are standing in their yard preparing to send a balloon, one with a message tied to it, up into the air. The message is a plea for help. The children need help because the scissors, car keys, TV remote, one sock, and their completed homework have all gone missing and their parents think that they are to blame.

   The balloon is just drifting up into the sky when the ground literally opens up beneath the two children’s feet. They are sucked down a tube and find themselves in a laboratory. A man there says that he is Dr. Zooper, and he tells the children that the problems that they have been experiencing are due to the “pesky creatures called Mischievians.” He points to a book and tells them that all the questions that they have are answered in the volume. The book was written by Dr. Zooper and it is an “encyclopedia of things that make mischief, make mayhem, make noise, and make you CRAZY!”

   The children begin by asking why their homework, their completed homework, so often disappears either at home or at school. It turns out that a little creature called a Homework Eater is responsible for these puzzling disappearances. Apparently, Homework Eaters are not eating homework to be mean. They are doing so because when they do eat homework they get smarter and they “love knowledge.” They love knowledge so much that they have even learned how to steal homework from computers.

   The children then go on to learn that Mischievians are also responsible for belly lint, blisters, sticky fingers, bad smells, itches in unreachable places, funny bone injuries, missing socks, yawns, and so many other things that are annoying and frustrating. Intriguing questions are answered and the children are not only enlightened by their visit to the doctor’s lab, they are also invited to help Dr. Zooper with his research.

   In this amusing picture book William Joyce’s wonderful illustrations are accompanied by a text that will appeal to anyone who has experienced one or more of the many things that Mischievians are responsible for. Problems that have, for so long, been a mystery will finally be explained, and readers might even be tempted to identify some new Mischievian species.