Friday, May 3, 2013

PICKLE: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School

PICKLE:  The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School
by Kim Baker, illustrated by Tim Probert
Roaring Book Press, 2012.  233 pgs. Fiction

     What kid could resist a whole room full of ball-pit balls free to anyone who will take them from the local pizza parlor.  Ben certainly couldn't, but his mother won't let him keep them because of, among other things, the smell.  So Ben sneaks them to his school, a garbage bag full at a time, and fills his classroom through an open window.  The success of this anonymous prank fills Ben with an insatiable desire for more practical jokes, but he knows he can't do it alone; hence, the Prank Club which meets under cover of a school Pickle-Making Club. Ben collects a few people he can trust, or who have blackmailed their way in, which unfortunately does not include his best friend Hector, whose grandmother is the school principal.  Some of the pranks work well--some, not so much (dry ice for a ghostly effect in the boys' and girls' locker rooms), but the strain on Ben and Hector's friendship, and a mean-spirited trick by one of the club's members that destroys  a school activity and forces the club out into the open, bring an end to the Prank Club's activities - - sort of.  PICKLE is a funny book with serious but never solemn undertones. By the end a happy medium has been reached; well, happy for everyone but maybe Hector's grandmother, Principal Lebonsky.

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