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Old 01-17-2013, 03:45 PM   #1
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Books with Naughty Main Characters

I'm looking for examples of books for ages 4 - 8 with naughty main characters. Not evil ones, just ones who go get into trouble, such as Curious George, or Harold and the Purple Crayon (even though he doesn't get into trouble, his parents couldn't have been too happy with him drawing on the wall).

Most of the examples I've thought of, such as those two (Curious George and Harold) are books that were written a while ago. I wonder whether editors no longer buy a book that they think might make a child more likely to misbehave.

What books can you think of for fairly young kids where the main character is mischievous?

Thanks in advance,
Anne
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:57 PM   #2
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Horrid Henry

The 'No, David!' series...
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:58 PM   #3
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I wonder whether editors no longer buy a book that they think might make a child more likely to misbehave.
Not in my experience - editors tend to be less worried than parents about that sort of stuff. I quite often see reviews of certain picture books we and others publish that suggest they don't have a moral. (People attack The Gruffalo for promoting lying!) The American picture book market does seem more interested in moralising than the UK one.

Horrid Henry is a good example of a big recent UK series about a mischievous kid.
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:26 AM   #4
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Not recent, but it does have a pretty naughty MC and was my dad's favorite book when he was a child: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
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Old 01-18-2013, 04:04 AM   #5
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One of my childhood favorites was Zeee, by Elizabeth Enright. Zeee was a little bad fairy whose beautiful homes kept getting trashed by oblivious humans and she would take revenge on them in various creative ways.
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Old 01-18-2013, 04:25 AM   #6
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One of my childhood favorites was Zeee, by Elizabeth Enright. Zeee was a little bad fairy whose beautiful homes kept getting trashed by oblivious humans and she would take revenge on them in various creative ways.
Oh, yes, Zeee! I loved her, too.

And there's Rotten Ralph. Did anyone mention Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus?

My nephew, who is 6, is addicted to Ivy & Bean, and his favorite parts are when they misbehave and get in trouble. Clementine is mischievous, too. Actually, I think a naughty, misbehaving, rebellious, or nonconforming main character is practically obligatory in kid lit, from PB through MG (and YA, too, I suspect). The more outrageous, the better. Who wants to read about The Perfect Child? Readers relate to characters who make mistakes or make wrong choices.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:40 PM   #7
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I agree. Horrid Henry is a huge hit in the UK, with a TV series, stage show etc. My kids love it.

I know some parents are anti poor Henry, saying that he promotes bad behaviour, but I think they underestimate their children. Kids know what is fiction and what is real. Where's the interest in books about perfect kids? Perfect Peter, Henry's brother, is only interesting because of Henry's antics.

A lot of lower MG fiction has 'naughtiness' as a main theme. Roscoe Riley starts every book sitting in time out, then he tells the story of how he got there.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:42 PM   #8
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I'm smiling to myself, hoping we're right. My current MG DORKBOY has a younger brother, Flea, who is unconventional to the extreme, doing his art project on the dog and giving the cat a mohawk........... naughty, much?
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:29 AM   #9
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I remember Enid Blyton had a few - the 'Amelia Jane' books, and 'The Naughtiest Girl in the School' books. Also there's the Dorothy Edwards 'My Naughty Little Sister' books, the Jennings books by Anthony Buckeridge, and the famous 'Just William' books. All of these are UK books and pretty darn elderly!
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:38 AM   #10
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Thanks everyone, these are GREAT. I had forgotten about No, David! and never heard of Horrid Henry. I read the Inside this Book just now for one of the Horrid Henry titles and was hooked. What a great concept.

Can anyone else think of more?
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:42 AM   #11
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OMG, Horrid Henry's Nits is about the funniest kids' story I've ever read. I read it aloud to my gang regularly, and can't stop laughing as I read. I love all HH stories, but that one is by far the best.

The audio CDs are fabulous too. I can listen to them over and over, unlike most audios.
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:37 PM   #12
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The Judy Moody books and the Clementine books are my favorites. The Time Warp Trio books are also lots of fun.
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:05 PM   #13
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Pippi Longstocking? Not recent of course.
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Old 01-22-2013, 01:10 AM   #14
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Olivia, recent and naughty. She does paint on the wall as I recall.
Lilly and the Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes. Lilly gets in trouble in school.
The How Do Dinosaurs... books contain some naughtiness to start, but then show the correct behavior.
Add Horrible Harry to the chapter books. There's some naughtiness between Harry and Sid. Those boys do not like each other.
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:15 AM   #15
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Horrid Henry is a brilliant series - sometimes the books get repetitive, but that's only to be expected when you've written so many shorts in the same vein.

In my younger days I also devoured the classic JUST WILLIAM and the probably lesser known (but no less hilarious) JENNINGS books. Obviously not modern by today's standards, never underestimate the power of reading and extrapolating for a modern audience.

Best of luck,

Dave
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:02 AM   #16
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Oh gosh, I'm going to look up Just William for my kids. I loved those books when I was a kid. Wasn't there a TV series too?
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Old 01-25-2013, 10:54 PM   #17
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Yes, there was. Don't remember much other than it was on CITV.

But seriously, look up Jennings as well. Just as brilliant.
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:12 PM   #18
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Actually, I think a naughty, misbehaving, rebellious, or nonconforming main character is practically obligatory in kid lit, from PB through MG (and YA, too, I suspect). The more outrageous, the better. Who wants to read about The Perfect Child? Readers relate to characters who make mistakes or make wrong choices.
This, exactly. I'm having trouble thinking of any books that don't celebrate resistance or non-conformity in some way.

Some others not yet mentioned:
Junie B. Jones
Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat (she isn't particularly naughty, but the whole plot is about her resisting what she's supposed to do, in order to save her family)
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Old 01-30-2013, 05:44 PM   #19
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I'm starting to think my children's book reading is not nearly as extensive as I once thought. Just William is another popular series that I was entirely unaware of. I just downloaded an audio version from Audible.com. Thanks!
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:43 PM   #20
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There were only three books, but if you want a funny little series, try AGENT Z.

Also great for those yearning for non-conformity/resistance based MCs, another popular but old series: THE DEMON HEADMASTER. Sure, the kids are actually the good guys, but they're still rebelling...

Dave
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:09 PM   #21
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Eloise is always getting into trouble. My friend wouldn't let her daughter watch the movies because she was afraid she would be a bad influence My MC has a bit of a naughty streak. Kind of like I was at that age. Nothing terrible, but not well behaved.
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:00 PM   #22
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Ramona the Pest--though I guess you were looking for more recent examples.
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