Middle School Mayhem

illus. by Rachel Renée Russell. 240p. (Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Bk. 2). S. & S./Aladdin. Jun. 2017. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9781481460033.
Gr 4–6—The first volume of this series concluded with Max landing on the pizza of the villains who were stealing the school's computers. This next installment follows his attempts to retrieve his father's prize comic book and thwart the thieves before his partner in high jinks, Erin, calls the police. Caught in the school building after hours because a school bully trapped him in a locker, Max now tries to capture the leisurely and incompetent criminals by sliming them with cookie dough, enticing them up a gym rope ladder tied to a fan, and luring one into a bathroom stall that explodes into a poop fountain. Along the way, he relays anecdotes about previous mishaps and connects further with his crush and technical adviser, Erin. Max also struggles with his asthma and gets in trouble at home because of his adventures. This notebook-style novel includes crossed-out text (when Max tries to edit his own story), rap lyrics, jokes about bodily functions, and digs at the insufficiencies of the school building and the criminals' abilities. The computer thieves are still on the loose at the end, so another entry can be expected.
VERDICT Student demand will make this purchase a necessity. Those who prefer a bit more plot and character development may find Tommy Greenwald's "Charlie Joe Jackson" or Nate Peirce's "Big Nate" titles to be equally amusing but more substantial reads.

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