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Celebrate April Fools’ Day With Books About Pranks

Groucho Marx glasses
Image by StickyWikis. CC-BY-SA-3.0.

Happy April Fools’ Day! It’s the perfect day to prank your friends or play a joke on your family. If you need some inspiration to come up with the perfect plan for the day or if you just enjoy stories about elaborate pranks in both fiction and real life, these books are perfect for you!

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: No collection of books on April Fools’ Day or pranks would be complete without the Harry Potter series. Throughout the books, pranks, gags and general high jinks make multiple appearances. And of course, much of this activity is supplied by Fred and George Weasley, Ron’s twin brothers, who were actually born on April Fools’ Day. Who can forget the Marauder’s Map, every prankster’s best friend? Or the amazing Weasleys’ Wildfire Whiz-bangs, their charmed fireworks? Or the various products they sold in their joke shop, such as their line of trick wands? No matter what the setting, the Weasley twins are the perfect inspiration for any prankster.

Looking for Alaska by John GreenLooking For Alaska by John Green: This 2006 Michael L. Printz Award winner is, at its heart, the story of relationships between the students at Culver Creek Preparatory High School, where Miles, the main character, is a student. While this book deals with a lot of important themes, it also includes a lot of elaborate pranks, which is an important part of the school’s culture.

Past Perfect by Leila Sales: Included on the 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list, this fun story follows Chelsea, a teen who has worked with her parents at a Colonial reenactment park for most of her life. Convinced by her best friend to work there one more year, she ends up conscripted to play a key role in the annual prank war with the Civil War reenactment park across the street. A story of elaborate pranks and the hurt feelings that can follow in their wake, this story is great for prank fans as well as history fans.

Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-BanksThe Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart: A classic tale of pranks at a boarding school, this book combines elaborate and impressive pranks with a very strong and relatable protagonist. Frankie isn’t perfect, but you will marvel at the schemes she devises, and you’ll keep turning pages to see what she’ll come up with next. Even more importantly, readers will relate to her feelings about her family, her boarding school, and her classmates. I had high hopes for this book when I read it and it still managed to exceed them; it is no surprise that it was a 2008 Michael L. Printz Award Honoree and a National Book Award finalist, to name just two of the many honors this book collected. The author also includes an acknowledgements section that lists several of the books that she referred to in writing the book, two of which, Prank University: The Ultimate Guide to College’s Greatest Tradition by John Austin and If at All Possible, Involve a Cow: The Book of College Pranks by Neil Steinberg are great non-fiction options for fans of practical jokes.

Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT by T.F. Peterson: Another wonderful non-fiction option for those interested in pranks is Nightwork. It details many of the best and most infamous pranks or “hacks” ever perpetrated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since well before the term was used in relation to computers, “hacking,” or developing and implementing large-scale pranks and other mischief, has been an important part of MIT’s culture. This history explains a bit about how this culture developed and provides some extremely entertaining examples of it in action. Read about the many “redecorations” of the school’s Great Dome, learn how students made the President’s office “disappear,” and maybe even gain some inspiration for your own pranks.

The Prank by Ashley Rae Harris: Those who prefer darker tales might want to consider this 2012 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Part of the Night Fall series, It follows a group of teens who love to play practical jokes until the pranks suddenly prove deadly. This creepy sounding book is definitely the next prank book on my to-be-read list.

I hope you’ll enjoy these stories of pranks and the jokesters that love them. Let me know in the comments if I’ve missed any great April Fools’ Day books, and share your favorite pranks for the day!

— Carli Spina, currently reading The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé

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Carli Spina

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One Comment

  1. Amy Amy

    Waiting for a student to return The Disreputable History. I’ve been wanting to read it, but since getting it, can’t keep it on the shelves. Heading to the public library today to pick up some books for school and now I really want to see the MIT book. I love stories about their pranks.

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