We are going to put the con back into BookCon,” Mac Barnett, says of the pranking workshop that he is leading with his fellow expert, or, partner-in-crime, Jory John, today, noon–12:45 p.m., on the Downtown Stage. The two have serious street cred: they wrote the book on pranking: The Terrible Two ( illustrated by Kevin Cornell), a tale of pranksters who engage in an epic war of trickery before joining forces to pull off the biggest prank the town has ever seen. Although the publisher claims that The Terrible Two is middle-grade fiction, savvy readers know better: it’s actually based on Barnett’s and John’s real-life experiences—only, like the tagline for Dragnet, the popular 1950s-era television show, declares, “the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Or, in this case, the guilty.
Barnett and John promise to make it well worth while for BookCon attendees to attend their pranking workshop. Not only do they promise to divulge the exact location of a speakeasy at Javits this weekend, but they are going to hide $10,000 somewhere in the building and provide meaningful clues during the workshop as to where the stash can be found. “We’re hoping that even though this workshop is being held in New York and will of course attract locals, that people will fly in from all over the world just to come to this event,” John says, “We’re especially looking to recruit people into our secret society of pranksters,” Barnett adds, explaining that becoming an official member of the Barnett/John prankster secret society involves taking the prankster oath, which will be administered to all who successfully complete the workshop.
The pranking workshop will include an overview of the philosophy behind pranking, readings about literary pranks from books that Barnett and John will claim to have written themselves, and hands-on exercises. “A lot of people will be leaving with a lot less money than they came with,” John notes. Asked if they intend to pick the pockets of attendees, Barnett and John vehemently deny entertaining such thoughts, pointing out that the competition for that is too stiff in New York City.
Don’t say that we didn’t warn you.
This article appeared in the May 30, 2015 edition of PW BookCon Daily.