101 ways to bug your parents


101 Ways to Bug Your Parents
Lee Wardlaw

Middle Grade Fiction
Ages 8-13
Dial Books for Young Readers

Click here for a Teacher’s Guide!



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Awards & Honors
(partial list)

An American Bookseller “Pick of the Lists” Book
 Bank Street College of Education Best Books of the Year
Charter Schools USA Recommended Reading List
Florida Sunshine State Young Reader Award
Great Stone Face (New Hampshire) Children’s Book Award
International Board for Books for Young People Honor List
       International School Librarians Recommended Reading List
Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Reader’s Choice Award
Nutmeg (Connecticut) Reader’s Choice Book Award
Oklahoma Sequoyah Children’s Book Award


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sneeze with clocks

When Sneeze's plan to take his latest gadget (The Nice Alarm) to the annual Invention Convention is torpedoed by his parents and they enroll him in a (yuck!) summer-school writing class, he is devastated – and desperate.  So he concocts a new-and-improved plan, one that will make him rich and famous and enable him to attend the Convention without his parents – because Sneeze was born to invent things!

Cast of Characters:


Name:  Stephen J Wyatt
Nickname:  Sneeze (because he’s allergic to practically everything in the world except maybe water and air)
Age: 12
Hobbies:  Inventing, sneezing, blowing his nose, annoying his parents.
Proudest Achievement: Creating The Nice Alarm, a clock that awakens you nicely by tapping you twice on the shoulder.

Most Embarrassing Moment:  Inventing a glow-in-the-dark toilet seat that gave him a glow-in-the-dark butt.
Best Friend:  Hiccup

hiccup Name:  Hector Denardo
  Hiccup (because he hiccups whenever he’s nervous, upset, frightened, stressed or excited. Which means he hiccups about 23 hours a day.)
Hobbies:  Reading Merck’s Manual to research diseases and/or conditions he might have contracted; drawing his own comic books about a superhero named Medicine Man (MM), who flies through the air making house calls, promising “Truth Justice and Vitamin C for All!”.
Proudest Achievement:  Surviving Chicken Pox.  Twice.
One True Love:  Sneeze’s mother.


Name:  Hayley Barker
Age: 12
Hobbies:  Hobbies? Who has time for hobbies when you’re busy trying to run Gadabout Golf, the ramshackle, near-bankrupt miniature golf course her dad owns?
Distinguishing Characteristics: Always wears dangling golf ball earrings; laser-beaming you with her S.O.S. (Squint of Suspicion)
Worst Moment of Her Life: When her mom died in a car accident.  A close second:  when her dad hired ‘hoodlums’ Sneeze and Hiccup to work as mechanics at Gadabout Golf.


Name:  Trudy Laux
Nickname:  Goldie (because she’s snoopy like Goldilocks, from the story about the Three Bears.)
Age:  A lady never tells!
Hobbies:  Snooping, spying, eavesdropping, prying, meddling and gossiping.  Oh, and bragging about her Mother-the-Vice-Principal.
Proudest Achievement:  Getting the dirt on you-know-who about you-know-what, you-know-when-where-and-how.
Achievement that Continues to Elude and Haunt Her:  Learning Ace’s real name. (see below)


Name:  Ace. Just Ace. (He’s so cool he doesn’t even have a last name)
Nickname:  Ha! No one would dare…
Age:  No one knows and he ain’t tellin’.
Hobbies:  Being cool.
Proudest Achievement:  Being very cool.


Name:  Peter Noel
Nickname:  Pierre
Age:  13-going-on-30
Future Plans:  To become a world-famous French chef (despite the fact that he was born in Oklahoma).
Distinguishing Characteristics: Always wears a beret and speeks wis zee phonee French ackzent.
Most Memorable Quote: "But what eef you do not like to write?  I want to bake desserts, not books.  For me, writing eez not light and flaky, like zee pastry.  Eet eez heavy and tasteless, like zee Pop-Tart.”

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Read What Reviewers Think About
101 Ways to Bug Your Parents:

Booklist:  "Wardlaw has written a funny story…[yet] the death of a parent, job insecurity, gifted children, teacher respect, true friendship, and even intellectual freedom all find play here. Children will turn the pages to see whether they've overlooked even one idea.”

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School Library Journal:  "… a fast, fun read. The humor and depth of the characters are reminiscent of Louis Sachar's There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom. Readers will hope for further adventures of Sneeze and his friends.”

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American Bookseller: "Snappy dialogue, believable, likable characters and a great list at the back of the book make this an appealing choice..."

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Kirkus:  "The title will hook readers, and the ending will satisfy them, while the real list of 101 ways to bug parents that closes the book is likely to elicit guffaws.”

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Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books: “Grab this one instead of the remote when you want good-natured entertainment blissfully devoid of commercials.”

guitar noise

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The Story Behind the Story
By Lee Wardlaw

The idea for this novel came from an article I read in my hometown newspaper a few years ago. The article was called "101 Ways to Bug Your Parents," and it focused on a local teacher who gave her 4th grade students a unique journaling assignment: Write about ten things you've done that have annoyed your parents.

The kids scribbled furiously. At the end of only 15 minutes, they had dozens of ideas! The class compiled 101 of their favorites and wrote them on the blackboard. A teacher's aide thought the list was funny and sent it into the newspaper, where it was published the following week.  The instant I read the article, I thought: Wow! What a great idea for a book!

Of course, no matter how great an idea is, it's not enough to make a great book. I had a title – 101 Ways to Bug Your Parents – but no story. So the first thing I did was arrange to meet the teacher and the kids who'd written the list.

I soon learned that the teacher worried she might get into trouble.  After the article had been published, the newspaper received dozens of letters from parents, and one ex-principal, writing things such as: "What a terrible assignment! Is this what our schools are coming to today? This teacher should be fired! Parents have enough trouble raising children without you giving them assignments like this!" and blah, blah, blah.

That poor teacher! This was her first year at the school, and she feared she might lose her job. But the principal laughed it off. He understood, he assured her, that the writing assignment had been given in fun, and that the list wasn't hurting anybody.

But the complaints she received started me thinking WHAT IF? What if the teacher had gotten into trouble and lost her job?  What if one of her students turned the writing assignment into an entire book and tried to sell it to every kid on campus?  Would there have been a public outcry against him and the teacher? And what would happen then?

The rest, as they say, is history…


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