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The Second File

by David Wisniewski & illustrated by David Wisniewski

Age Range: 7 - 11

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-688-17854-5
Publisher: HarperCollins

Since the publication of The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups (1998), Wisniewski has been dodging the law while continuing his lonely crusade to expose the truth behind those meaningless grown-up rules. The world may rest easy; he has resurfaced long enough to bring more of this duplicity to light. Disguised as the Tooth Fairy, he discovers that the real reason we should brush our teeth is to keep them from starting tooth riots; disguised as a feather duster, he discovers that the real reason we should clean under our beds is to prevent the proliferation of killer dust bunnies; disguised as a mop, he discovers that the real reason we shouldn’t stay in the bath too long is to keep from going down the drain; and so on. The dauntless secret agent employs his X-acto knife to great effect, detailing the prunification of a sleeping bather and the potbellied trapezoid of the four cruddy food groups (salt, grease, sugar, and fat, which when ingested in excess result in brainjacking—shades of the Twinkie defense). Other media occasionally enhance the cut-paper collages; the killer dust bunny, for instance, is a marvelous menace made up of what appears to be actual dust, with gold foil teeth and Cheerio eyes. Those familiar with the first exposé of adult rule-making will recognize that there is absolutely nothing new about this offering; it simply repeats the format and formula of its predecessor while losing some of its zany freshness. It is also only nominally subversive: while couched fancifully, the description of Ginger Vitus’s depredations on teeth and gums would be at home in any dentist’s office. Still, middle-grade kids seem to eat this stuff up, and this will likely move briskly, especially where the first has had success. (Picture book. 7-11)