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The Bad Apple (Merits of Mischief) by T. R.…
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The Bad Apple (Merits of Mischief)

by T. R. Burns

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When a food fight breaks out in the cafeteria of Seamus' school he lobs an apple at his sworn enemy, Bartholomew John. The apple misses the intended target and instead takes out Miss Parsippany Seamus' substitute teacher.This incident earns him a spot at the country's top reform school, Kilter Academy. Seamus is a nervous wreck when his parents drop him off at Kilter which is reminiscent of a maximum security prison. After his parents head back home the real purpose of the school is revealed. Kilter isn't a reform school instead it is a place where troublemakers can hone their skills. Bad behavior is encouraged and rewarded with demerits. When I first started reading this book I thought it would be a 2 or 3 star read but the secrets and plot twists that were revealed at the end left me anxious for the next book. If you are looking for a fun and creative read look no further. The Bad Apple will appeal to fans of Leon and the Spitting Image and The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy. ( )
  68papyrus | Mar 25, 2013 |
Seamus Hinkle is just an average kid in an average middle school. Unfortunately, things go terribly wrong for Seamus when an eager new substitute teacher, Miss Parsippany, foils his plans on Fish Stick Tuesday and ends up dead in the lunchroom cafeteria. It was a simple accident, but Seamus' well meaning parents enroll him at the Kilter Academy for Troubled Youth in the hopes of reforming his errant ways.

Expecting severe punishment, Seamus is surprised to discover that things are a little bit off at Kilter Academy where troublemakers are nurtured. Rather than being rewarded with gold stars, students aim to earn demerits instead. In order to advance to the next year, students must complete certain tasks, like pranking teachers, which other kids would get grounded for. Despite Seamus' insistence that Miss Parsippany's death was just an accident and that he doesn't possess any real troublemaking skills, he soon finds himself swimming in demerits. As the end of the first semester draws near, all Seamus wants to do is go home, but before he can, he and his classmates must pass the final exam. In their mission to complete the Ultimate Troublemaking Task and make the director cry, Seamus and his friends learn about teamwork, friendship, and loyalty.

The Bottom Line: Merits of Mischief is a new series for kids in grades 4 - 6. It's a fun read featuring kids who excel in troublemaking. Along the way the characters learn the importance of friendship and teamwork despite all the trouble that they are encouraged to create. There are a few loose ends left at the end of the first book, but I'll definitely pick up the next installment to see what Seamus and his friends are up to. Recommended for kids looking for something a little bit different and quirky to read.

This review also appears at the Mini Book Bytes Book Review Blog: http://minibookbytes.blogspot.com/ ( )
  aya.herron | Sep 22, 2012 |
Merits of Mischief: The Bad Apple by T.R. Burns is the first book in a quirky new series for young readers. When he accidentally kills a substitute teacher by throwing an apple, Seamus Hinkle's parents send him to a school for troublemakers. What his parents don't know is that Kilter Academy is not a reform school . . . if anything, it's the opposite. Seamus and his fellow students are trained in the art and science of troublemaking. At Kilter Academy, demerits are good and gold stars are bad. Playing pranks on your teachers is mandatory. Students who fail to make enough trouble are in danger of expulsion. The thing is, Seamus wasn't trying to be a bad kid -- the incident with the apple was an extremely unfortunate accident. Can he survive his time at Kilter Academy?

This odd little story fits in well with books like The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Name of This Book is Secret. It's very obvious that the author plans to continue with the series, as very few loose ends are tied up at the end of this book, and though it's not exactly a cliffhanger, readers may find that they have more questions than answers when the book is closed. Even so, it's a tremendously fun read, and I'll be keeping an eye out for future installments. ( )
  foggidawn | May 18, 2012 |
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Twelve-year-old Seamus Hinkle is a good kid with a perfect school record—until the day he accidently kills his substitute teacher with an apple. Seamus is immediately shipped off to a detention facility—only to discover that Kilter Academy is actually a school to mold future Troublemakers, where demerits are awarded as a prize for bad behavior and each student is tasked to pull various pranks on their teachers in order to excel. Initially determined to avoid any more mishaps, Seamus nonetheless inadvertently emerges as a uniquely skilled troublemaker. Together with new friends Lemon and Elinor, he rises to the top of his class while beginning to discover that Kilter Academy has some major secrets and surprises in store.
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After accidentally killing a substitute teacher with an apple, twelve-year-old Seamus Hinkle is sent to Kilter Academy where, in order to excel as he always has, he must behave badly and pull pranks on his teachers, but along with new friends Lemon and Elinor he discovers that there is more to the Academy than meets the eye.… (more)

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