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Literature / The Terrible Two

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A kid's novel by Jory John and Mac Barnett, published in 2015. The first in a series.

Miles Murphy has just moved to the boring town of Yawnee Valley, known for its many cows. As his old school's most infamous prankster, he looks forward to continuing his pranking at his new school. The problem is, there's already a prankster there.

It was followed by The Terrible Two Get Worse in 2016. A third book came out in 2018, titled The Terrible Two Go Wild. The fourth and final book, The Terrible Two's Last Laugh, was published in 2018.



  • Alliterative Name: Miles Murphy.
  • The Bully: Josh Barkin, the principal's son, picks on other kids including Miles.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • One of the cow facts ends up as this. The fact that cows can walk up stairs, but not down them, is used to fill the school with cows.
    • The concept is discussed in book 2. The dissolving thread and Barry Barkin's sewing projects both become relevant by the end. And thus, the concept of a Chekhov's gun is in itself a Chekhov's gun.
  • Fictional Document: Excerpts from the cow facts booklet are scattered throughout the book.
  • First-Episode Twist: Niles being one half of the Terrible Two. In fact, the cover practically gives it away for you.
  • Indy Ploy: Miles is good at improvising when he needs to.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Niles' family is pretty well off, but he's never had a friend over.
  • Occam's Razor: Discussed in book 2.
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  • Odd Friendship: From the outside, Miles and Niles appear to have this.
  • Pants-Pulling Prank: Book 2 involves trying to pull one of these on the new principal, who wears suspenders and a belt to ensure his pants stay up.
  • The Prankster: The premise of the book.
  • Rhyme Theme Naming: Rivaling pranksters Miles and Niles.
  • Spoiled by the Format: Lampshaded in book 2.invoked
    Was this the end of the Terrible Two?
    Had the story of these two great pranksters come to an end?

    No way, of course not. There are still thirty-eight pages left in this book.
  • Teacher's Pet: Niles is a student aide and very enthusiastic about following the rules.