by David Lubar


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Flip is a propulsive standalone science fiction novel for middle grade readers by acclaimed author David Lubar now available in trade paperback.

Eighth-graders Ryan and Taylor are twins, but that's where the similarities end.

Their parents and teachers think Taylor is the perfect student. Ryan never met a test he couldn't fail. In fact, failure is what he does best. But they share at least one thing in common: nothing is turning out as they planned. It's as if the rules have suddenly changed. No matter who you are, everyone wants you to be someone else. But who?

They may have found the answer: magical alien disks that allow them to "flip" into the character of a hero from the past—Einstein, Cleopatra, Hercules. The possibilities are endless. As Ryan and Taylor discover, being a hero is fun. It's being yourself that is really hard.

Flip is a fast and funny coming-of-age adventure that will appeal to avid and reluctant readers alike, by David Lubar, the beloved author of the popular Weenies short-story collections.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The SF aspects of the story and the information about legends from the past are cleverly interwoven with such adolescent issues as friendship and peer pressure, dealing with bullies, and finding one's identity. This is an enjoyable read that will appeal to both boys and girls.” —KLIATT

“[A] spaceship dropping magical artifacts to Earth becomes secondary to a complex, believable character study…. A multi-level tale, well told.” —Publishers Weekly

“The narrative jumps nimbly between the siblings and also includes their meek but funny friends Ellis and the school bully, who is headed for an inevitable showdown with Ryan. [A] pleasant choice for humorous science fiction fans.” —School Library Journal

San Diego Union-Tribune

[A] quick, fun, funny book . . . for just about anyone who can read.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765378439
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 03/03/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 819,408
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.71(d)
Lexile: 550L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 13 Years

Read an Excerpt


By David Lumbar

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2003 David Lumbar
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-6234-6


Halfway into the Woods

Taylor Shut off her alarm clock and blinked the bedroom into focus. As the morning light filled her eyes, the memory of a flash flittered through her mind. There must have been some lightning last night, she thought.

The slight chill of the hardwood floor felt nice against her bare feet when she shuffled down the hall to the bathroom. On the way, she paused by her brother's door long enough to knock and say, "Seven o'clock. Time for school, Ryan."

No answer. No surprise. They were twins, but far from identical. He was blond with blue eyes. Her hair and eyes were light brown. But the real differences lay beneath the surface. Ryan did everything at the last minute, if he did it at all. She finished every assignment as soon as possible. He dangled near the bottom of their class. She hovered at the top. He acted out every thought. She thought out every action.

Taylor knocked again on the way back from the bathroom. "Get up. You can sleep as late as you want tomorrow." Still no answer. I tried.

She dressed in the clothes she'd laid out the night before, checked her backpack to make sure she had everything ready, then sat at her desk and wrote in her journal until seven-thirty.

Yogurt, she decided as she capped her pen and closed her journal. That's what she usually had on Fridays. Blueberry. With one tablespoon of wheat germ. A good source of vitamin B.

After breakfast, Taylor left for school — allowing herself enough time to arrive fifteen minutes early, as always. She enjoyed the walk, especially now that spring was so close. The school was only eight blocks from her home, including the long stretch that bordered the park.

When she got there, she spotted a familiar figure wandering along the edge of the woods by the football field. Even from behind, Taylor recognized the black sweatshirt with the bright green alien face, the electric-blue sneakers with the dangling orange laces, and the blond hair in that ridiculous ponytail.

What's he doing? Taylor jogged around the side of the school and across the field. By the time she reached the woods, Ryan had disappeared among the trees, but she had no trouble following the snap of branches that marked his passage.

"Hey," she called when she caught sight of him.

"Hi," Ryan said. "What are you doing here?"

"What are you doing here?" Taylor asked. She glanced nervously over her shoulder in the direction of the school.

"Looking for the alien ship," Ryan said.

This wasn't even close to any of the thousand excuses she'd expected from him. "What alien ship?"

"The one that exploded over the woods. I saw it last night. Couldn't sleep after that. So I got out of bed early."

"Don't be absurd," Taylor said. "You saw lightning — probably a distant flash which you misinterpreted due to your overactive imagination. That's all."

"I'm not stupid," Ryan said. "I know what I saw. It wouldn't hurt for you to believe me once in a while. I saw a spaceship."

"Then you were dreaming." Taylor checked her watch. There was still plenty of time before school started.

"No way. I was awake. I had a killer thirst. Remember what happened at dinner?"

"Every detail, unfortunately." The scene was fresh in her mind, the newest entry in a collection she thought of as "Explosions at the McKenzie Dinner Table." Of course, if Ryan had listened to her, there wouldn't have been any trouble. All he had to do was tap the stupid shaker. But he never listened. It was like his brain was clogged.

"I got up for a drink of water. That's when I saw it. Had to be an alien ship. As long as you're here, you can help me look." Ryan waved his arm at the woods around them. "I'll bet we find pieces all over."

"You're wasting your time," Taylor said. It drove her crazy. He wouldn't spend five minutes on things that really mattered like homework or studying, but he'd squander hours chasing after some fantasy. "There aren't any alien spaceships."

"There's one less than there used to be," Ryan said. "That's for sure. Come on, help me look for stuff. If they're smart enough for space travel, they've got to have all kinds of equipment. You know — alien artifacts. And weapons. They'd definitely need protection against hostile earthlings. Wouldn't it be great if we found a disrupter beam?" Ryan squatted and fired at a nearby tree.

Taylor wondered which hostile earthling was Ryan's real target. A list of possibilities scrolled through her mind: Dad, Ms. Gelman, Coach Ballast, Mr. Zorn, Principal Guthrie, Billy Snooks. Maybe even her. The list, like the universe, was endlessly expanding.

While space was growing larger, time was growing shorter. She glanced at her watch again. "We'd better head back, or we'll be late."

Ryan shrugged. "So?"

"So we'll get in trouble." Taylor wasn't about to blow a hole in her perfect attendance record.

"I don't care." Ryan spun away from her and charged deeper into the woods.

"Travel between the stars is virtually impossible," Taylor called after him. "I learned all about that when I did my report for the science club last month." No answer. But she could hear him crashing around the underbrush. "Faster-than-light travel is prohibited by the laws of physics. If you maintain a sub-light-speed velocity, it'll take forever to get anywhere. Okay, not technically forever, but well beyond the lifespan of any imaginable being. The nearest star is ..." Taylor let it drop. She realized it was pointless trying to influence Ryan with facts.

If a physics lesson falls in a forest, and nobody listens, does it make a difference? With Ryan, Taylor had learned, nothing seemed to make a difference.

Taylor checked her watch again. I should leave him. I should just go to school and let him wander through the woods all day. She glanced toward the school, took two steps in that direction, then sighed, turned, and ran to catch up with her brother. "Come on!" she hollered. "Let's go."

He was standing still, staring down at the ground. Now here's a curious anomaly. He's no longer a body in motion. Maybe he was actually paying attention to her for once. "There aren't any interstellar spaceships," she said, resuming her lecture. "There aren't any aliens. And there aren't any artifacts."

"Really?" Ryan raised one eyebrow and gave her an odd smirk.


"No artifacts?"

"None." Taylor was glad he was listening to her. There might be some hope for him after all.

"Then what's this?" Ryan asked, pointing at a bed of weeds near his feet.


Billy Snooks opened his eyes the slightest crack and checked across the room. The other bed was empty. No reason it wouldn't be. Adam had been gone for nearly three months, leaving nothing behind but a torn NASCAR poster and a thousand bad memories. He'd slunk off to an army base in Oklahoma, thanks to a judge who'd given him a choice between serving time or serving his country. Still, it was a hard habit for Billy to break. He'd been Adam's punching bag for as long as he could remember. He'd spent his whole life looking out of the corners of his eyes.

Seeing that he was safe, Billy sat up, arched his back, flexed his arms, and let out a satisfied groan. He loved the way his biceps bulged. Rock solid, he thought.

Across the room, his door inched open and his mother peeked in from the hallway. "Billy, do you want your breakfast now?" "Yeah, sure," he said. It was weird the way she always seemed to know the exact second he got up. Almost like she waited there all morning.

She dashed off. Billy heard pans and dishes clattering in the kitchen, followed by the crack of eggs breaking. A couple of minutes later, his mother scurried back with a tray. "Ham'n eggs, just the way you like," she said. "Fresh juice. I squeezed it myself. Biscuits and jelly, too."

He breathed in the sweet aroma of fried ham. "I think my clock's broke." It was almost time for school to start. Not that he minded missing a class or two.

"Your clock's just fine. You looked so tired last night, I turned the alarm off," his mother said, tucking the napkin around his neck. "You're a growing boy. And growing boys need lots of sleep. I'm sure your teachers will understand. I'll write you a nice note."

"They don't like me," Billy said. He shoveled a forkful of eggs into his mouth, then washed it down with half a glass of orange juice.

"Hush that nonsense," his mother said, reaching out to ruffle his hair. "Everyone likes you. You're my Billy Boy." She poured more juice for him.

Billy dug his spoon in the jar and plopped a glob of strawberry jelly on the open face of a steaming biscuit. As he lifted the biscuit to his mouth, the jelly quivered like a frightened child.

Touch and Go

Taylor stared at the shimmering glob. Bits of color darted beneath the surface like miniature tropical fish, and the whole glob quivered rhythmically as if someone was stamping hard on the ground nearby.

"It's from outer space," Ryan said.

"Sure. Absolutely." Taylor had heard more than enough wild fantasies for one day. "An entire spaceship explodes, and this is all that's left. One piece of gook the size of a golf ball. Good thinking, Ryan." She knelt for a closer look, taking care not to get her knees dirty. Probably some kind of insect slime, she thought. Bugs made all sorts of icky globs. Or it could be tree sap. That's how amber started out. Maybe even a fungus. Or a slime mold. For a second she imagined the thrill of discovering a new species of myxomycete. She'd probably be the youngest scientist who ever made such a find. She pushed aside a fern that was blocking her view.

"Hey, I saw it first," Ryan said, reaching over her shoulder to grab the glob.

"Don't touch it!" Taylor tried to block his arm but Ryan bumped her and she toppled forward. Her hand shot out and landed right on top of the glob.

"I said it's mine. Let go."

Taylor tried to let go. But the glob spread over her fingers, covering them with a flickering film that chilled her flesh like rubbing alcohol.

"Get it off!" She yanked her hand away and scuttled back. Too late. The film raced up her wrist and vanished beneath her sleeve. A cool tingle flowed past her elbow, then washed across her shoulder. A rainbow flashed above her hand as she raised it closer to her face.

"Ryan?" she cried. She saw that his hand was also engulfed in the flowing film. The coolness spread over her body and, worse, upward toward her head. It covered her neck and chin.

"No!" Taylor shouted. She slammed her mouth shut and fought the urge to scream again as the film invaded her lips, her eyes, her ears.

A crazy thought shot through her mind: I've never seen the Grand Canyon. There was so much she hadn't done. So much she wanted to do. She had her whole life planned out. This wasn't part of it.

The world turned black, silent, cold.

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The cold, flowing film covered Ryan. Faint music drifted toward him through the darkness. Cool, he thought, turning his mind over to the sensations. The music grew louder. He realized it wasn't coming from the woods. It was coming from inside his head.

The music blared like he was surrounded by an orchestra of trumpets and violins. Light filled the space between his eyes and mind, swirling in formless colors. This was definitely cool. He wished his friend Ellis was here to share the fun instead of Taylor. Ellis would think this was great.

"You hear that?" he called.

No answer.

Ryan figured all of this was probably wasted on his sister. She didn't do well in new situations. She liked things to be the same all the time. Which was impossible. Stuff changed. It was changing right now for sure.

He forgot all about Taylor as a deep voice entered his consciousness, spewing a rapid stream of words.

They're new! They're stunning! They're unlike anything the universe has ever experienced. From the creative team that brought you Andromeda Adventures and the smash hit series Sensations of Sirius comes the latest extravaganza of exotic aliens from unknown worlds.

The swirling colors focused into an image. Ryan found himself face-to — face? with a giant worm. Dozens of waving tentacles rippled along the segmented body. Ryan agreed with the announcer — this was definitely an exotic alien.

The creature spoke from an opening near the bottom of its middle segment. Yes, friends. They're finally here. Legends of Earth. Our finest assortment ever. An image of Earth, streaked with bands of clouds, appeared next to the creature.

You heard me right. Earth. Filled with unbelievably strange and alien life forms. They're amazing, they're amusing, they're virtually indescribable. And indescribably virtual. Once you've experienced them, you'll know what we mean.

Several of the tentacles braided together, then waved at a spot beneath the slowly spinning planet. As the trumpets went wild, a man with bulging muscles appeared, wearing an animal skin and gripping a club. Ryan smelled sweat, along with a musky animal odor and a whiff of blood. Behold Hercules, the voice announced. The tentacles whipped toward another spot. There stood Cleopatra, grasping a dark red fruit. The air filled with the scent of perfume. Ryan's mouth watered as the sharp flavor of pomegranate invaded his taste buds.

The next wave of the tentacles brought Robin Hood stabbing a slab of venison with his knife. Meat juices flowed across Ryan's tongue. Wave. Albert Einstein. Wave. Leonardo da Vinci. Wave. Billy the Kid, Amelia Earhart, Abraham Lincoln, Annie Oakley, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Eric the Red. Each one was announced by name as dozens of smells, flavors, and sounds flooded Ryan's senses.

Yes. All these and hundreds more. Legends of Earth. The wildest creatures that ever walked on two feet or breathed through one nose.

A tentacle snapped toward Ryan, releasing a spinning disk the size of a quarter. It sailed forward, expanding until the shimmering surface filled the entire field of vision in his mind. The disk vanished with a pop, and he saw the creature again, along with all the legends. They waved at him and smiled. Lincoln winked. Cleopatra blew him a kiss. Mozart wiggled his ears, and Eric the Red did a trick with his thumb. The colors and shapes grew soft, then faded like a microscope spun out of focus.

"Awesome," Ryan said. It was almost too cool for words.

Another voice, far less grand and impressive, but far more familiar, drifted in from near by. "What in the world ...?"

Back to Reality

"Awesome ..."

The sound of her brother's voice was like a beacon guiding Taylor back to reality. She blinked and stared at the woods that surrounded her. "What in the world ...?" The sounds and images that had tried to invade her mind were gone now. She'd managed to fight them off by giving her brain the Herculean task of alphabetizing the elements of the periodic table. During those awful moments, she'd squeezed her eyes so tight, her face hurt. But, by the time she'd reached molybdenum, she knew she'd won.

"Too cool," Ryan said. "That was better than when we went to the 3-D movie."

"Cool?" Taylor uncurled her fingers and looked at the crescents her nails had etched in her palms. "What are you talking about?"

"Didn't you see the ad?"

"I didn't see anything," Taylor said. Nothing real. She tried to think of a logical explanation for the incident. Maybe there'd been a chemical in the glob that produced hallucinations. Cautiously, she sniffed her fingertips. All she detected was a faint scent that reminded her of fresh laundry.

"We have to find some more of that globby stuff. And the disks they told us about. I bet they're way better than movies." Ryan dropped to his knees and began pawing through the weeds. "You going to stand there? You're always telling me to stick with things I start. Everyone's always telling me that. Well, I'm sticking with this. No matter how long it takes."

How long? "Oh my God." Taylor's stomach clenched as she checked her watch. The rising wave of panic fell back when she saw she still had time to get to homeroom. But barely. "Let's go. The bell's about to ring."

Ryan shook his head. "No way. I'm tired of everyone telling me what to do. Mom, Dad, my teachers, and especially my know-it-all sister. I feel like a freakin' puppet."

"Come on. If you wait until after school, I'll help you look. Okay?" She'd promise anything just to get him moving.

"I'm looking now." Ryan crawled deeper into the bushes. "Hey, if a spaceship blew up, would all the stuff fall in one place, or would it spread out? Come on, you're the family brain. How about putting some of that knowledge to good use for once in your life?"

Taylor ignored the insult. "I'm not helping you until after school," she said, her attention focused on a familiar-shaped leaf near her feet. "And I'll give you a great reason to go inside."

"Like what?" Ryan asked.


Excerpted from Flip by David Lumbar. Copyright © 2003 David Lumbar. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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