Recommended for ages 8-12
Desmond Pucket is a middle schooler who loves monster movies and special effects. He’s also a prankster who just can’t resist a good opportunity to use his special effects expertise to scare the daylights out of people, whether it’s his annoying older sister or one of the teachers. He’s been good at covering his tracks, but when he springs a prank on his older sister and her friends at a sleepover, he finds himself in hot water at school – one of his sister’s friends is the daughter of the disciplinary head at his school; he’s been waiting for Desmond to slip up, so he can transfer him to another school! Now Desmond has three chances left before he’s kicked out of school and misses the big field trip to Mountain Full of Monsters at Crab Shell Pier. Can he keep out of trouble for just a little longer?
The book is written in a similar style to Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid; it’s a first-person storyteller and illustrated, presumably by Desmond, with black and white sketches. There are even drawings that look like they’ve been sketched on torn bits of paper, to add to the realism of Desmond, and his friend Ricky’s, notes. The endpapers are green and have the appearance of crumpled paper, with more of Desmond’s drawings and notes to the reader.
I loved this book. It’s fun, light, and Desmond is – like Greg in Diary of a Wimpy Kid – a victim of his own making. He can’t stay out of trouble, but unlike Greg, he knows he’s his own worst enemy. He just can’t resist a good prank opportunity to cause mayhem. He even laments not being able to take credit for his brilliant pranks, because he knows it will get him into trouble. When he decides to pull a prank at his sister’s sleepover, he has no idea of the trouble he’s getting himself into, and when the fallout hits, he has a major crisis on his hands – how can he stay out of trouble and still be himself? He ultimately decides that being true to himself and owning who he is is more important than anything, including a long-awaited school trip.
Andrews McMeel has a wealth of Desmond activities and information online, especially since the second book in the series, Desmond Pucket and the Mountain Full of Monsters, will be released this August. You can read a sample chapter online at the Desmond Pucket site, follow him on Facebook, and download teacher and librarian resources on the Andrews McMeel site, including a guide to teaching with graphic resources and English/Language Arts and Science curriculum connections to work with, using the book. There are games and activities for readers both online and at the end of the book itself, where Desmond shares some notes on how to make fake blood, cool monster growl effects, a phantom knocker, a ghost, and a gelatin dessert.
I am looking forward to more Desmond books, as is my 10 year-old son, who read this book in about an hour and a half last night!