So The Southern Indiana Writers Group decided to do a Middle Grade anthology. We each wrote a character sheet for a kid, all of whom attended Wurstburg Middle School. We made copies of our character’s sheet and swapped them around, then each wrote a story with some (or all) of the characters in it.
Each story contains the line, “the worst book in the universe.” And that’s the title of the anthology: THE WORST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE.
Here’s a bit from mine, “It Came From Burr County.” In it, my character, Haskell, has hidden a book in a train case in the attic. But his Aunt Ginger has come to stay a couple of days and to borrow some luggage. One piece is the train case, which is now in her room.
excerpt from “It Came From Burr County”
by Marian Allen
“It’s a book,” I said, craning over my shoulder to make sure Mom wasn’t coming. “I bought it yesterday and snuck it in the house and hid it in a train case in the attic, and now that train case is in my room, which is now Aunt Gingy’s room, just waiting for her to find it and land me in the hottest water ever boiled.”
“Geez,” Snake said, “what book is it? The Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition or Playboy or what?”
“Worse than that,” I said. “It’s a Manga. You know Manga?”
Acting bored because I asked him something obvious, he said, “Japanese graphic novel, drawn and written back to front. Usually in black and white. Probably an English translation.”
Danny cut to the heart of it. “What’s so bad about this one? A lot of violence? Bloodshed? Flirty stuff? Girls in short dresses and tight blouses?”
Snake snickered. “Can’t let the folks see that! They’ll wash your eyes out with soap.”
“Worse,” I said. I didn’t want to say it out loud, but they were looking at each other like they couldn’t wait to go try to imagine what it could be, so I leaned in and told them. “It’s a Manga of the Book of Genesis. You know, from the Bible?”
They just stared at me.
Then Snake said, “The Bible?” He said it like he’d never heard of it before, or like he’d heard of it, but was surprised that somebody he knew had anything to do with it. “Like from church? That Bible?”
“Yes,” I said. “As a Manga. Think about it.”
They thought about it.
Danny said, “Adam and Eve. Naked.”
Snake said, “Cain and Abel. Murder.”
I said, “Talk about graphic. I saw it on the internet, and then I saw that Frigate carried it. I’m telling you, guys, it ain’t Sunday School material. It’s the worst book in the universe! If Aunt Gingy or my Mom get hold of it, I’m finished. Can you help me?”
Snake looked to Danny for his answer.
Danny said, “We can. The question is, what’s in it for us?”
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: What does your main character consider the worst book in the universe?