When Charlie's cousin John spends their Rhode Island vacation playing practical jokes, especially on Charlie, Charlie's only recourse seems to be to reciprocate in kind. If this were just a light-hearted series of comic pranks, fun to read about and carrying a minimal (but wholesome) message, it would be heartily welcome. Unfortunately, John's interminable tricks are neither imaginative nor particularly funny, running to such obvious items as odd animals hidden in beds and rubber hot dogs, and are motivated more by boredom than the sort of rivalry or animosity that might be termed ""war."" When Charlie finally gets organized, he first booby traps the toilet seat with firecrackers (filched from his aunt, who has also purchased rockets for July 4--both are illegal in R.I.) and then enlists the aid of an elderly neighbor, another unregenerate trickster who sets a remote-controlled shark look-alike to circling John, who has gone out alone in a small boat. Mom/aunt, busy writing a thesis, complains about all this with asperity but almost no effect; the threat of Dad's weekend arrival gives John some pause, but it's not clear at the book's end that he'll really give up his jokes, although Charlie plans to ignore him if he doesn't--but he's tried that before. This is probably dull and aimless enough to minimize the danger of emulation.