cover image The Cut-Ups Cut Loose

The Cut-Ups Cut Loose

James Marshall. Viking Children's Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-80740-6

In their second story, the incorrigible Spud and Joe take on the biggest cut-up challenge of allschool. They're met head-on by their old antagonist, Lamar J. Spurgle, who, as the new principal, soon puts a stop to their antics. But when Spurgle confiscates the sportscar belonging to their pal Mary Frances, he has gone too far. Mary Frances calls on her teacher, the formidable Sister Aloysius, who remembers ""that Spurgle kid'' she taught in grade school and quickly sets him straight. The story is most satisfying early on, when we see the Cut-Ups, outfitted with stink bombs, a tarantula and other mischief-making accessories, locking horns directly with Spurgle. It loses some of its zing when the conflict shifts to Mary Frances's car, for Spud and Joe are left merely to observe from the wings. But the zany humor throughout will delight most everyone. Once again, Marshall offers a madcap, rollicking adventure; teachers may cringe, but children will relish the Cut-Ups' ability to terrorize the adult world. Ages 3-8. (October)