The Mischievians

William Joyce. S&S/Atheneum, $17.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-4424-7347-8

Worry not, kids. Missing a sock? Homework vanished into the ether? Just realized you have “a booger dangling out of your nose and you know it’s been there maybe all day and everybody has probably seen it?” It isn’t your fault. These and other woes are caused by implike creatures known as Mischievians, as two siblings learn courtesy of one Dr. Maximilian Zooper. Joyce (the Guardians of Childhood) structures his story as a guide to the Mischievians, from Mista Blista—a smiley, blister-causing shoe-lurker—to the skateboard riding Itchy and dreaded Earworm. The book’s Q&A format is jokey and informal, with kidlike queries (“Why do I sometimes get a thorn thingy stuck in my foot when I walk barefoot in the grass?”) and lightheartedly informative responses. Clever touches abound in Joyce’s whimsically imagined portraits of the creatures, with their odd tufts of hair, spindly appendages, and assorted suction cups, horns, and accessories. If a tad long to read through start to finish (is a Mischievian also responsible for squirming?), there’s great fun to be had discovering the sources of everyday annoyances. Ages 5–8. Agent: Michael Siegel, Michael Siegel & Associates. (Oct.)