There's enough humor here to elicit at least a few guffaws from even the most literary averse.” BCCB
“[A] highly amusing new series starter.” Booklist
“The idea of a hybrid Willy Wonka/Frankenstein character is original and hilarious.” School Library Journal
“Comfy antics for readers who don't probably much like reading.” Kirkus Reviews
Keeping track of "Wonk" is hard work. But with help from friends and a little off-the-wall magic, Rob and Wonkenstein's crazy adventures set the stage for great laughs . . . and Rob might even read some good books along the way.
There's enough humor here to elicit at least a few guffaws from even the most literary averse.” BCCB
Gr 4–6—Rob Burnside is as average as a 12-year-old can be. His only claim to fame is that he is distantly related to the person who invented sideburns. His mother is always coaxing him to read, but all the books she buys for him end up in a jumble in his closet, which also doubles as his "laboratory." The sameness of Rob's life skids to a halt when someone inexplicable bursts from his lab one day. At first Rob has no idea who this little guy is, but then a trip to the library determines that he is a bizarre mash-up of Willy Wonka and Frankenstein. Rob must go to great-and often embarrassing-lengths to conceal "Wonkenstein," because he'll be in huge trouble if his parents find out what a mess his closet is. Written in a journal/comic format from the perspective of an underachieving narrator, this book owes an obvious debt to Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series (Abrams). The drawings don't pack a big comedic punch, but the writing is quite funny and has a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. And while the format and the protagonist might not be inventive, the idea of a hybrid Willy Wonka/Frankenstein character is original and hilarious. This book will be a hit with kids who can't get enough of the Wimpy Kid.—Amy Holland, Irondequoit Public Library, NY
Skye adds another Wimpy Kid to the growing bandwagon.
Sounding almost too nerdy to be true ("I'm kind of like a backup singer in the song of life"), 12-year-old Rob relates his tale in the now-requisite mix of block-print–type prose and line-drawn cartoon figures with punch lines or commentary in dialogue balloons. A string of hectic events follows the appearance of a manic mannequin from the midden of books and old science projects in his closet. He describes it as "a small, weird man who came up to just above my waist. He looked like two different people who had been smashed together." Comical chases, pranks, interactions with friends dependable and otherwise, mortifying mishaps in front of girls and like standard fare later, Rob has overcome severe stage fright to mend fences with classmate Janae and others by reciting a poem of apology at a school talent show. He has also been turned on to books by his discovery that the mannequin is an amalgam of Willy Wonka and Frankenstein's monster. In the end, Wonkenstein slips back into the closet—and out springs an even smaller Harry Potter/Chewbacca blend. Sequels, anyone?
Likely to be lost in the crowd, but comfy antics for readers who don't probably much like reading—which, one thinks, is exactly the point.(Fantasy. 9-11)
|Series:||Creature from My Closet Series , #1|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Lexile:||860L (what's this?)|
|Age Range:||9 - 12 Years|
Read an Excerpt
The Creature from my Closet
By Obert Skye
Henry Holt and CompanyCopyright © 2011 Obert Skye
All rights reserved.
THE CLOSET DOOR
This is not your normal book. Normal books begin with things like "Once upon a time" or "Jimmy Pennyworth was a fine young man with a bright future, blah, blah, blah. ..." And since you've read this far, you can clearly see that this book begins with neither of those.
My name is Robert Columbo Burnside. I got my first name from my mom's dad, my middle name from some TV detective my parents like, and my last name from my father. Our family is related to the man who invented sideburns — which really isn't that great a discovery.
Old people call me Bobby, my friends call me Rob, and my mother calls me Ribert — a name that is very embarrassing. Like the time when she yelled out for me at the store, she sounded like a frog. I had to hide just so Melanie Wolf wouldn't see it was me.
Of course, it was even more embarrassing when I tripped climbing out of the ball bin and smashed into Melanie as she was putting on lip gloss. The tube went halfway up her nose.
I'll have to cross Melanie off my list of girls who secretly might like me.
My dad doesn't call me Ribert. He calls me Robert, and he's a pretty good dad. His name is Earl, and he sells playground equipment. He's always smiling and talking about how he has the best job on earth.
Even though he's nice, he's also embarrassing. He always wears a suit and tie. Plus, he thinks everyone he meets is his new best friend.
I probably wouldn't write any of this down if it weren't for my oddly disturbing closet. But because of that, I've decided I should document some of the stuff going on in my life, for the sake of science and scientific study. Who knows? It could be important someday.
When I got my own room five years ago, there wasn't a door for the closet. So my dad went out and found a door at a garage sale that he thought worked perfectly. I thought it worked, but not perfectly. It's very heavy. I break into a sweat just trying to open it.
My dad claims the door's made of wood, but I'm pretty sure it's made out of lead. It also has a goofy sticker of a dumb pony with the word SMILE on it. We tried to scrape it off, but whoever owned the door before us painted over it with shellac, so now it's permanent.
I don't really care that much about the door, but there's one thing that really makes me uneasy, and that's the doorknob — it's big and gold, with the ornate engraving of a small, smiling, bearded man on it.
I've asked my dad to change the doorknob a thousand times, but he just says ...
I don't agree — the doorknob creeps me out. It seems like the little bearded man is always looking at me. Sometimes I have to put a towel over the doorknob just so I can change into my clothes.
I only mention the door because it probably has something to do with the condition of my closet. See, my closet's not really just a closet.
When I first got my own room, I wanted to turn my closet into a laboratory. But my parents wouldn't buy me a chemistry set, so I had to collect my own lab supplies. I took all the ketchup and relish and mustard from our refrigerator. I gathered all the cleaning supplies and shampoo I could find. And I took some of my mom's and sister's makeup when they weren't looking. Then I mixed the condiments and makeup with Play-Doh and mud in my closet and tried to discover a cure for everything from chapped lips to hangnails. I never really cured anything except cleanliness.
After I failed at that, my closet became just a place where I could shove things I didn't want to bother with anymore — things like my sister.
Libby is my slightly older sister. As far as sisters go, she's pretty close to the most painful one ever created. She's always looking in the mirror and commenting on how beautiful she is. When she was in sixth grade, she lost the spelling bee because of her vanity. The word was beautiful, and she spelled it ...
Libby isn't allowed anywhere near my closet unless I'm pushing her in. Besides, she claims it makes weird noises when I'm not around. That doesn't surprise me. I put everything in my closet — toys I've outgrown, clothes that no longer fit, sports equipment I was never good with, trash, and all the hundreds of books my mother tries to make me read. Books like ...
I'm not sure how you feel about books, but me, I'm torn. My mother used to work at a bookstore and collected tons of books. Now our basement is crammed with them. Which means that every week or so, my mother wanders down into the basement and picks out books for me and my sister to read. Libby always acts all fake and happy about it. Then she just throws them back down into the basement.
I also have a younger brother. His name is Kevin, but when he was born, I couldn't say Kevin so I called him Tuffin. It stuck, and now that's what everyone calls him. He's not the worst little brother, but he's cuter than I am, and my parents seem to settle arguments these days based on who's cuter. So I always try extra hard to be out of the house whenever he breaks things.
I can't stand when my mother gives Tuffin books. Tuffin always looks at his book and then spends the rest of the week begging me to read it to him. But he's hard to read to because he makes up words and insists they're in the book. And if I don't read the words just the way he wants me to, he throws a fit.
I throw all the books my mother gives me into my closet. But I'll be honest, even I'm a little embarrassed by how messy it is. In fact, last night when I looked over at my closet, I was shocked. Things were spilling out, and I could smell something disgusting. I was going to get up and close my closet door, but it seemed like a lot of work. So I just shut my eyes and pushed my face into my pillow to block the smell.
I still couldn't fall asleep, so I tried counting fried chickens. My dad always says that it's way better to count fried chickens instead of sheep because then when you wake up you'll be hungry and ready to take on the day. I guess it works because chicken number twenty-three was the last chicken I remembered.CHAPTER 2
Saturday started out normal enough. I woke up around ten, helped myself to a bowl of cold cereal, told my mom I had done my Saturday chores, and went outside to hang out with some of the kids in the neighborhood. My street is pretty good as far as friends are concerned. There are kids my age in almost every house, and I'm friends with most of them.
My favorite friend is Trevor. We've been best friends for about twelve years. His glasses are nearly always crooked, and he talks a lot, but he also goes along with most of my ideas, and I don't mind going along with his. Another good thing about Trevor is that he's worse than me at most sports, which makes me look better than I am.
My friends and I usually hang out in front of my house on a big, rocky island in the middle of the cul-de-sac. The island has three palm trees and a bunch of big, scratchy bushes, and it's covered with rocks and two patches of grass.
Most Saturdays we all gather at the island or the empty dirt field by my house. Sometimes we dig holes or play football or talk about the girls in our neighborhood. And sometimes we dare each other to go knock on the door of the Awful House.
The Awful House is the one house on our street that doesn't really match. It was built a long time ago, before there was a neighborhood, and now it just sits there with a grown-over yard and a rickety windmill, looking old and odd. Mr. Pang lives there with his big son, Oscar. We all call Oscar Ogre. Once Aaron actually opened the front screen door of the Awful House and stuck his head inside. Aaron said he could hear babies crying, but Aaron says a lot of things that aren't exactly true.
So, it was early Saturday, and we weren't quite bored enough to be bothering with the Awful House yet. We were talking about why Janae Welt was too cute to like any of us when my father came home. He had a huge metal thing in the back of his truck, and he was smiling wider than usual.
Since my dad is in the playground business, he sometimes brings home playthings for us to test out. Once he brought a huge ball with handles on it called the Whirl-Sphere. My dad said it was going to be the next big thing. He had me and my friends get on it and then pushed us down a hill.
We got so beaten up they had to discontinue the Whirl-Sphere. Another time my dad brought home a slide with rollers on it. He said it was going to make all other slides look stupid. Well, I got my clothes and skin pinched in it. Aaron got his sweater pulled up over his head, Trevor's shoelaces got stuck, and Jack lost some of his hair. Rourk made things even worse by plowing down through everyone. In the end, it was us, not other slides, who looked stupid.
Today my dad brought home a Jump-A-Roo. He told us that if we jumped on it and pretended like we were having fun, he would take our picture and we could be on the front of a playground catalog. My friends liked that. They all started jumping and grinning big, fake, cheesy grins while my dad took pictures. Even Jack, who prides himself on never smiling, smiled.
I was just about to get my turn when Tuffin fell through the bars and Jack accidentally jumped on his ankle. Jack said it wasn't him, but thanks to my dad taking pictures, we had proof.
I had to take Tuffin inside to calm him down and get my mom to help him. My mom, by the way, is completely the opposite of my dad — my dad likes to go, go, go, and my mom likes to nap. I love her, but it's a rare moment in our house when my mom isn't lying on the couch sleeping. She went to the doctor once to see why she was always tired. They ran a bunch of tests, and in the end, the doctor said she was exhausted because she was a mother and had three kids to look after.
My mother was so upset Tuffin got hurt that she got up from the couch and began rummaging through the hall closet for some bandages. While rummaging, she happened to look into my room and notice that I hadn't actually done my Saturday chores. She threw a bigger fit than Tuffin was throwing. She also made me clean my room while my friends all posed for pictures and jumped on the one piece of equipment my dad had brought home that was actually fun.
It took me two hours, including break times, to shove all of my things into my closet. I crammed everything in with all the old stuff from my laboratory. When I was done, I could barely close the closet door, and Beardy looked fat. I took some Silly Putty I had found while cleaning and shoved it into his face.
When I told my mom I was finished, she just snored, so I went back outside. My dad had stopped taking pictures a while ago, and Jack had accidentally punctured the tube with a lawn dart. So all I could do was hold on to the bars and sort of hop. It wasn't that fun.
When I went to sleep that night, I noticed that the Silly Putty had fallen off my closet doorknob and Beardy was smiling at me again. I thought about getting out of bed and picking the putty up, but Fred, our parrot, flew into my room and I didn't want to scare him away. When we brought Fred home years ago, he busted out of his cage, and we haven't been able to catch him since. So Fred flies around the house as he pleases, and he sits up in the beams of our ceiling and poops on things. He only comes down for food at night when everyone's asleep.
We also have a dog named Puck. He's possibly the world's fattest dog and really doesn't do anything besides lick up bird poop and whine to go outside — which is a problem because he doesn't fit through the door easily.
Neither one of our pets is going to win an award anytime soon, but I still like them.
I watched Fred settle on the top of my curtains. He squawked a couple of times, shook his wings, and quieted down.
Then I fell asleep on the last partially normal night of my life.CHAPTER 3
AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR
I'm not a morning person — mornings are too cold and too quiet. I think the perfect way to start the day is to roll out of bed once the sun has warmed things up, eat a bunch of pancakes, and play video games while my sister does my chores.
But this morning — way too early — Tuffin woke me up, and all because he wanted me to see a bug. I told him to leave me alone at least twenty times before I reluctantly got up. I had a quick glass of chocolate milk from the kitchen and followed Tuffin out front. He was talking about some bug and led me to an overturned bucket with a stain on it. He kept pointing at it and saying ...
I couldn't really understand what he was saying, so I just nodded. He got mad that I was nodding and started to scream. Unluckily for me, Janae Welt was out front with her friends who had slept over, and they saw me. It was then that I remembered I was wearing what I had slept in: a huge old concert T-shirt of my dad's. Plus, my hair was a mess, I had a chocolate milk mustache, Tuffin was wailing, and Puck was chewing on an old sock.
I ran back inside as Janae and her friends laughed. It was not my proudest moment. I guess I was hoping to make a better impression.
I don't know why, but Janae and I had a rather complicated relationship. When we were seven, we were best friends.
When we were nine, we were disgusted with each other.
At eleven, we ignored each other.
But ever since the start of the school year, I wondered what it might be like to be friends with her again. Now I had blown my chance by being seen in a big sloppy T-shirt with a drippy milk mustache.
I stormed back into my room and slammed the door. I changed into some of the clean clothes in my dresser, mumbling to myself about girls. I was just about to pinky swear to myself that I would never leave the house again when I heard a knock coming from the inside of my closet.
I figured some of the junk I had shoved in my closet was just settling, so I ignored the noise until there was a second knock. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.
I stepped over to my closet. As usual, Beardy was smiling at me, but now it looked like he was also winking.
I reached out and touched the doorknob. It was kind of warm, and when I tried to turn the knob, it wouldn't budge. I twisted it the other way — nothing. I leaned my ear against the door and listened. I could hear a weird gurgling noise. I jumped back and stumbled over my bed and into the corner of my room. Libby walked by my door and saw me in the corner, hiding behind my bed and rocking.
I told her there was something in my closet.
I asked Libby nicely to check for me, and she answered not nicely, telling me she wasn't going to fall for any tricks.
When I called for Tuffin to help, he didn't answer. I figured he was still out front pointing at the stain on the bucket. I called out for my dad, but he was in his room listening to the TV so loud that he couldn't hear me. I was about to call for my mother when Trevor popped up outside my window and knocked.
I jumped up from behind the bed and opened the window. Trevor climbed in and fell to the floor as I quickly closed my bedroom door. My mother hates the fact that most of my friends come in through my first-floor window. She likes to know exactly who's in the house at all times. I think she suspects that I will sneak in some really bad stuff.
Trevor was having a tizzy because his mom was making him babysit his cousin later. I couldn't really blame him for being mad. I mean, his cousin was a tiny, whiny troublemaker. His name was Copeland, and the one time I met him, he kicked me in the shin, called me fat, and told me that the only way he WOULDN'T tell everyone that I had hit him was if I gave him a dollar. I should have given him the dollar, because he screamed and cried — and Trevor's mom banished me from their house for a month.
I told Trevor that I was sorry for him having to babysit, but that I had a bigger problem. When he asked me what my "bigger problem" was, it sounded kind of lame coming out of my mouth.
I told him that I couldn't open my closet door and that there was some sort of gurgling noise coming from inside. Trevor laughed at me and walked over to my closet. He tried to turn the knob, but it wouldn't open for him either. He put his ear to the door, but he couldn't hear anything. Trevor told me that I should probably get my hearing checked and turned toward the window to leave. That was when we both heard a ...
The closet door squeaked open about an inch by itself. Both Trevor and I dove back behind my bed.
The closet door began to open wider. It was so heavy, I knew there was no way it could just drift open. The hinges squealed like a rusty iron pig.
Trevor pulled the pillow from my bed and stuck it over his face as I stared at the closet. I wanted to look away — actually, I wanted to crawl under my bed and call for my mom. But my body stayed right where it was, and my eyes were focused on my closet. Then the door flew open.
I grabbed my baseball bat as Trevor pulled the pillow off his head and screamed like a girl. The creature grunted, and Trevor dashed out the window faster than I thought possible. I gulped. I was alone with the thing from the closet.
It stared at me and groaned. I stood up slowly and took a really good look. After a couple of seconds, I dropped my bat and breathed in deeply. I would have been terrified if not for its size and smile.
The creature was a small, weird man who came up to just above my waist. He looked like two different people who had been smashed together. He wore a top hat and had a cane in one hand.
Excerpted from Wonkenstein by Obert Skye. Copyright © 2011 Obert Skye. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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