Sir John Hargrave’s Mischief Maker’s Manual

Title: M3: Sir John Hargrave’s Mischief Maker’s Manual

Author: Sir John Hargrave

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (div of the Penguin Group)

Publish Date: June 11, 2009

ISBN: 9780448449821

Miscellaneous: This is an advance uncorrected proof and not the finished copy.

The Prankster’s Code

There are six fundamentals of mischief making, a set of rules that will guide and protect you throughout your pranking career. Just as a Boy Scout can stay alive in the wilderness by cooking and eating a bear, your chances of staying out of trouble will be greatly improved if you follow these six basic concepts. 

A: Always be careful.
B: Don’t be a Bully.
C: Be Creative.
D: No lasting Damage.
E: Excellence in pranking.
F: Be Funny.

-Sir John Hargrave’s Mischief Maker’s Manual, page 23

Sir John Hargrave’s Mischief Maker’s Manual (hereafter referred to simply as the M3) is, as the title suggests, a manual for young pranksters.  It provides some  stories of legendary proportions in the history of pranking, and proclaims the M3 Institute’s desire for excellence and creativity in mischief making.  Above all, the pranking youngster is to follow the Prankster’s Code, with particular attention to being careful that no one is injured and that no lasting damage is done.

This book mainly seems to be written for boys, ages 9-15 year old, both in its language and references and in the 1950s reminiscent illustrations.  Girls like to prank, too.  As a mother (who pranked) of three girls (all of whom prank), I can assure you that a girl likes to pull a trick just as much as a boy does.  But by the end of the book, I was getting the feeling that this was bad-girl-behaviour on my part.  Sexism aside, I found myself chuckling and snickering at several jokes, made mental notes of a few I’d like to pull (foaming toilet comes to mind), and shared several of the ideas with my kids and their friends.

Some excellent aspects of this book are that it is geared for kids who might not see science, history, math, etc, as subjects worthy of their attention, but this book promotes all these things, including explaining the science behind why a trick works.  Also, it encourages children to keep their rooms clean, do housework, get good grades, etc, so as to be above suspicion and to curry favor of the one who holds the purse strings.  It may be a little bit of bribery, but to me it seems more like psychology… while they may be doing good for nefarious reasons, they’ll be developing good habits that will outlast their prankery. 

A major thing I like about this book is that the author acknowledges “boys will be boys,” and you may as well try to rein them in to safety.  By repetitive instruction to NOT aim sling shots at people, not to use live animals in pranks, and to never do anything that might be unsafe, we can hope that students of the M3 will not harm themselves or those around them.  One particular inserted text box admonishes: 

Even though the first three letters of the word “catapult” spell “cat,” do not attempt to launch cats from catapults.  This goes for kittens also. -page 157

The author also stresses the point that not only should one’s prank not cause lasting damage, but the easier the clean-up the better.  He recommends using only water in water balloons, to use said balloons only in the summer AND near the pool, that way everyone can enjoy the joke (they’re hot and already planning to get wet). 

The only negative thoughts I have about the M3 is that it continually encourages the reader to trick people into giving them the things they need for a prank.  “Get your parents to buy the catapult kit by telling them you want to be an engineer!”  “If someone asks why you want the dry ice, tell them you’re having a party!” etc.  I find it irritating enough that children whine and beg for things, but to have a book tell them to lie and manipulate people to give you what you want, as well, is a bit disgusting.

All in all, though, I feel the M3 is a safe enough book to give to kids.  They might learn a little science in the process, and you may even find a few things to do with them, as well.  While it got a little boring after a while, and some of pranks’ directions were a little confusing, it gives a reader plenty of chuckles and inspires creativity and fun.  I give Sir John Hargrave’s Mischief Maker’s Manual 3 1/2  out of 5 stars.


The makers of the M3 have posted the following video on YouTube.  It shows how to commit 3 of the pranks detailed in the book.  Personally, I’d commence a beat down on my children for the “Coke Explosion,” which is why the book recommends you only pull pranks on people who can take a joke.   Like my mom always said, “Fun for one is no fun at all.”


The Sunday Salon ~ Finding a New Home

The Sunday

Spring is here 😀 and it’s a time for new growth, changes, cleaning, and new beginnings. Today is Easter, as well. one of those two or three days a year the less-than-faithful drag their butts out of bed and into the church to do their duty, please their parents or as part pf their holiday visits with friends and family.

For me, today was the first time I’ve been to a church service in about a year. For five years we went to a church that was within walking distance. We loved everyone there, worked in the children’s church as a teacher, and it was our family and home. Then they moved to the mall and we couldn’t walk their anymore, so they picked us up (I have no car) and we rarely missed a service. Though we had a ride, the move cut us down to in and out on Sundays (only) on someone else’s schedule, and no more mid-weeks or other activities, and we kind of started to feel disconnected from them. Then one day they stopped coming. No phone call, no card, just nothing.

It’s hard, or at least it’s hard for me, to change churches. I want to find one and stay. I don’t like to try this one, then that, and go everywhere… I used to as a kid, though. I don’t want to tell my life story to all new people every other week or month or year. And this particular one hit me hard, as I did nothing to cause them to dump us. And for the last year, I’ve felt as if they abandoned us, and to pick a new church would somehow be disloyal, to say I’ve given up hope on returning there.

But a year is long enough, I guess. It’s time to accept that we’re no longer part of that family. Yesterday, I took Maggie to an Easter party at the Assembly of God church. It was very warm and friendly, and there were several faces I recognized. Also, a very good friend of mine goes to church there, and they have a great youth group, children’s church, and bus ministry. It’s a bigger church than what we’ve been used to, a LOT bigger, but it’s not the first time I’ve been a member of a big church (when I lived in Kokomo, the church we went to was a 500-700 member church, a lot of them were my cousins).

So today, Easter Sunday, was my first day back into a church. The kids are excited and happy, they’ve always loved church. Maggie even wants to be baptized, and, as she’s now 10, I think she’s old enough now.


I picked up a lot of books this week (like I need some more!). Maggie’s school had a book fair, and I grabbed a few there:
The Name of This Book Is a Secret
Skeleton Creek
How to Steal a Dog, and more.

Then, we stopped into the library yesterday to pick up a movie on hold for us there, and left with:
Marked: House of Night book 1
Just Ella and its sequel Palace of Mirrors.

Also, I’ll be participating in a few blog tours, among them:
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and SweetMay 11th
They Plotted Revenge Against AmericaMay 20th
The 19th WifeJune 19th
and for The 19th Wife, I’ll be having a give away for a book 😀


I had my first experience with a a weird show called Happy Tree Friendsthis week. Netflix suggester thought I’d like it, so it arrived on Thursday. Maggie hates it, she hates anything in which animals are hurt… even cartoon ones. Sam, having a weak stomach, also hated it. Gwen, however, found them to be completely hilarious and was the only one to watch them with me. Here’s an episode for ya 😀