Review: The Power of Positive Pranking
I don’t usually do a lot of second-book-in-the-series reviews because, well life being too short and book shelves being too full and all that, but this follow on story by Nat Amoore warrants a megaphone of praise all on its own. The Power of Positive Pranking is a not just the second in a series about the antics of a bunch of upper primary school scallywags, it’s a standalone rib tickler packed with tidy trays-full of heart, subterfuge and oh yeah...good old fashioned PRANKING!
We’re back at Watterson Primary School, breeding ground of some great characters like Tess and Toby from, Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire. This time the focus is on Casey Wu and her secret band of fellow pranksters, Cookie and Zeke aka the Green Peas, a name that can be interpreted in multiple ways but essentially is a club of pre-teens dedicated to the art of pranking for the greater good. So what does this oxymoron actually mean?
As with its predecessor …Positive Pranking’s chapters are defined by a series of organisational rules e.g. Green Peas Rule 2: It’s not about the glory, it’s about the message, which encapsulates the overall tone of the story. The Green Peas, sniff out issues and causes they deem worth fighting for or highlighting in some way be they environmental or community related concerns. They use the high-impact visual appeal of pranks to anonymously ram their messages across always mindful of causing maximum exposure and maximum effect (Rule 7), being creative and never ever underestimating the power of positive pranking (Rule 20).
In an adult dominated world, positive pranking is the loudest most powerful voice Casey and her chums have of voicing their opinion and actuating it. Thus when they stumble upon Watterson mayor’s dastardly plans to usurp her position of power and transform the township into a heartless concrete wasteland of developments for her own financial gain, The Green Peas leap into action with the intent to disclose, denounce and prank their way to their town’s salvation. Hurrah!
But it’s not as straightforward as all that. Planning, recruitment, and of course road-blocking adults all need careful manipulation. Then there’s Casey’s knot of self-doubt, lingering grief for her absent mother (whose Thoughts on Life…sentiments are truly heart melting), confused relationship with her father and a deaf Asian gourmet meal producing grandfather (Ah Gong) to consider. It’s little wonder she needs to write everything down!
The Power of Positive Pranking fizzes with funny moments, action, intrigue, friendships more solid than concrete and enough nefarious behaviour to amuse and bemuse well into ‘lights out’ time. Once again, Amoore’s ability to suffuse laugh-out-loud scenarios with emotionally laden tenderness is something I’d shout out from a megaphone; if I had one.
Standby for more Watterson Primary School mayhem and fun when Amoore’s next novel drops, The Right Way to Rock in June this year. Yeah baby!
The Power of Positive Thinking
Author: Nat Amoore
Publisher: Penguin Random House, $14.99
Publication Date: June 2020
For ages: 10+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction