Ever wonder what might qualify you for the Naughty List? The characters in these books might be able to give you a hint!
No, David!, David Shannon (1998): This Caldecott Honor book is David Shannon’s remake of a book he wrote when he was five that his mother sent to him as an adult. The only two words he could spell at the time were “no” and “David,” and he illustrated it with pictures of himself doing naughty things. As the author says in his note, “‘yes’ is a wonderful word…but it doesn’t keep crayon off the living room wall”! David is naughty in several other books of the series as well, such as David Gets in Trouble and It’s Christmas, David! (Just to help prove that naughtiness doesn’t have to stick with you forever, David Shannon is now a prolific and successful author and illustrator and probably no longer draws in crayon on the walls…)
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak (originally 1963, 2012): Some little boys get into enough mischief to make their parents call them wild things…and win Caldecott Medals. Like many naughty children, Max has a vivid imagination and–after being sent to his room without supper for his wild behavior–goes on a grand adventure but gets lonely for “someone [who] loved him best of all,” someone who keeps his supper hot and waiting for him for when he’s done being wild. (That’s always good for a little mischief-maker to remember, that their parents love them even when they’re in trouble!)
Miss Nelson Is Missing!, by Harry Allard and James Marshall (1977): The classic story of a classroom full of unruly students who come to appreciate their sweet-tempered teacher after a terrible substitute, Miss Viola Swamp, fills in for her one day. (I actually used this book as inspiration one year when I was having a tough time with a hard-to-manage class. I wore black business suits, my hair in a tight bun, and no smiles for a while, and it actually worked! I read them this book when my behavior modification period was over. 🙂 ) Miss Nelson’s class can also be found in Miss Nelson Is Back and Miss Nelson Has a Field Day.
Bad Kitty, by Nick Bruel (2005): Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Bad Kitty (formerly known as “Kitty”) goes through an entire alphabet of naughtiness to protest the foul menu she’s being offered when the family runs out of food for her. When reparations are made, Kitty does restitution, but then the family brings home a “new friend” for Kitty…a puppy to share her food! “Uh-oh” indeed. Bad Kitty makes an appearance in a number of other titles as well, including Bad Kitty Christmas and Poor Puppy and Bad Kitty.
M Is for Mischief: An A to Z of Naughty Children, by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (2008): This alphabet book of awfulness tells (in poetic form) the misadventures of misled children, from Blustering Buster (who brags about his skills) to Impolite Irma (who irritates everyone in a variety of ways), and often chronicles the unfortunate results of their incorrigible behavior. (Crime doesn’t pay, folks.)
Horrible Harry in Room 2B, by Suzy Kline, pictures by Frank Remkiewicz (1988): Told from the point of view of his best friend and classmate, Doug, this introduction to Horrible Harry (whose parents hopefully don’t call him that) tells about some of the things that make him horrible. Written for early elementary age students, his pranks (which sometimes backfire) are usually relatively tame and barely seem to merit the title “horrible,” but that makes it a perfect series for a little vicarious mischief without the potential for truly terrible copycat behaviors. Harry can also be found in Horrible Harry and the Christmas Surprise and Horrible Harry and the Dungeon (among many others).
Horrid Henry, by Francesca Simon, illustrated by Tony Ross (2009): Horrid Henry is so outrageously horrid that even his parents call him that. He makes Horrible Harry look like Henry’s younger brother, Perfect Peter (who, I have to say, is dreadfully obnoxious). All the children in these books have alliterative names detailing their usually less-than-charming character traits, and Horrid Henry’s antics are so over-the-top that I doubt anyone would try to emulate him. (I hope.) As I mentioned in my review of the tooth fairy book in this series, it’s not really my cup of tea, but the vocabulary and imagery are major positives for this distressing series (which is apparently wildly popular in the UK)! Horrid Henry also appears in Horrid Henry’s Underpants and Horrid Henry’s Stinkbomb.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson (originally 1971, 2005): Known as The Worst Kids in the World in several countries outside the US, this book features the Herdmans, a brood of foul-mouthed, belligerent, neglected children who strike fear in the hearts of their classmates and adults alike. When they show up at church (because they heard they served snacks) and insert themselves into the Christmas pageant, everyone is afraid that they’re going to ruin everything, but their curiosity and wonder about the story so many have begun to take for granted instead open the minds and hearts of the regulars and the Christmas story–as it should all of us–begins to change the Herdmans, too. Kids will probably mostly enjoy the outrageous behavior of the Herdmans, but adults will have a hard time finishing the story without shedding a tear or two. Although it’s impossible to top the original, the Herdmans also star in a few other books, including The Best School Year Ever and The Best Halloween Ever.
Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer (2001): Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old boy who is so naughty it’s criminal. No, literally: he’s a juvenile criminal mastermind who has taken over his father’s illegal empire in his absence. In this first book of the series, he makes plans to kidnap a fairy and demand the ransom to help rebuild the family fortune, but Holly may be more than even he bargained for. Like most naughty children, even the smart ones, he’s got a lot of growing to do, and he begins to question the way he does business and interacts with those around him. The story continues through a number of books, a true combination of sci-fi and fantasy (falling squarely into the speculative fiction genre), including Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident and Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code.
Now that I’ve shared some examples of true naughtiness, here’s a quote from the movie Fred Claus to get you thinking: “That Naughty-Nice List that you got? There’s no naughty kids, Nick. They’re all good kids. But some of them are scared. And some of them don’t feel listened to. Some of them had some pretty tough breaks too. But every kid deserves a present on Christmas.” No matter how naughty, every kid deserves love and a chance to put their energy to good use, so give it to them! You’ll be surprised at how not-naughty so many of them will become!