Mixed motives seriously hamper a young villain-in-training.
Villainy having been the family occupation for generations, 11-year-old George Pruwell is thrilled to audition for a spot at the exclusive Academy of Villainy and Wrongdoing in New York City, with a chance to earn a Distinguished Villain plaque. But at the same time, he frets that his compulsive kindness to animals, surreptitious friendship with a Regular Public Citizen neighbor, and inability to carry through with pranks are signs that he may not be cut out for proper evildoing. Things only get worse when his penchant for connecting with classmates rather than sabotaging them lands him in the lowly track assigned to, ugh, sidekicks. And so, in a truly last-ditch effort to raise his standing, he volunteers to duke it out with legendary superhero Captain Perfectus. The face-off doesn’t go off as expected at all, as instead of fighting the Captain, George makes him a secret ally by helping him weather an existential crisis (it’s not so easy being “Perfectus” all the time). This experience finally prompts the relieved George to face facts, quit the academy, return to his loving mother (who doesn’t seem all that surprised) in Omaha, and enroll in a regular middle school. For readers who haven’t caught on to the title’s ambiguity, Bearce leaves her young dropout proudly regarding the new Worst Villain Ever plaque on his door.
A lighthearted and entertaining play on the title’s double meaning.(Fiction. 9-12)