Laugh Out Loud


By James Patterson

By Chris Grabenstein

Illustrated by Jeff Ebbeler

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$12.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around August 28, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Get ready to Laugh Out Loud (a lot!) with James Patterson’s illustrated middle grade story of a twelve-year-old boy starting his own book company for kids.

Jimmy loves reading so much that he’s inspired to start a book company for kids — run by kids. It’s a big dream for a twelve-year-old boy. Some would even say it’s laugh-out-loud ridiculous!

But that doesn’t stop Jimmy from dreaming even bigger! His company will be as imaginative and fun as Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory . . . with a Ferris wheel instead of an elevator, a bowling alley in the break room, and a river filled with floating books! He just has to believe in himself and his idea (and maybe win the Lotto).

In this hilarious story filled with clever references to children’s book favorites, James Patterson shows young readers that anything can be achieved if you believe in yourself no matter what!


Chapter 1

Dream Big!

Hi, my name is Jimmy and you’re reading one of my books!

Well, actually, it’s your book. Or the library’s. Or maybe it’s your friend’s or your cousin’s or your sister’s and they lent it to you, which means they’re sort of like a library (which is totally awesome, by the way).

The point is, I, Jimmy, published this book. That’s right. I made it at my own book-making company called… ta-da: JIMMY!

I have to tell you: seeing that JIMMY logo on the cover of this book is pretty cool.

You want to go back and look at it again?

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

(While you’re checking it out, I’ll hum something from Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, one of my favorite books about the power of music!)

You’re back? Great!

For me, that little JIMMY thingy is my dream come true.

I don’t know this for sure, but I think the most important thing in the world is for kids to have dreams.

What’s yours?

You do dream, don’t you? And not just when you’re sleeping. I’m talking about a BIG, wide-awake, I’ll-do-whatever-it-takes-to-make-it-happen kind of dream. Something like winning the Olympics, finding the cure for a scary disease, stopping your little brother from gumming up the Xbox controller with peanut butter again, or running your own book company.

Fact is that ever since I was a little kid (yeah, yeah—soooo long ago, right?) I’ve loved books.

You ever hear that saying, “Do what you love, love what you do”? Well, that’s exactly why I wanted to start my own book company.

I know how crazy that sounds. Laugh-out-loud nutso. At least that’s what all the grown-ups in my life kept telling me.

“That sounds crazy,” said my uncle Herman.

“Laugh-out-loud nutso,” added Aunt Irene.

“Run a book company? You?” said this bald guy named Jeff. “You’re just a middle schooler! You won’t stand a chance, kid. I’ll crush you like a cockroach—just like I crushed all the other, older cockroaches who came before you!”

(Jeff, I think, runs his own book company.)

But like I said, a kid has to have a dream before any of his dreams can come true.

So here’s how everything happened; how an ordinary kid like me got his own publishing company. It’s so exciting, I could write a book about it.

So guess what?

I did!

Chapter 2

My Marvelous Visitors

Okay, here’s how my book company got started.

Late one summer night, I went walking with my dog, Quixote, which, by the way is pronounced KEY-HO-TAY. That’s right. I named him after the lead character from the classic Spanish novel The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. (Don’t ask me how to pronounce his last name. I’m still trying to learn how to say ¿Dónde está el baño?) It’s all about this guy who is an epic dreamer and fights windmills. He’s kind of a weird dude.

Anyway, we weren’t too far from our house in San Jose, California, and I was reading The Marvels by Brian Selznick.

Yep. I love books so much I can walk and read at the same time.

Unless there is an open manhole. Or a curb. Curbs are tough.

Anyway, have you read The Marvels? The first half is told completely in pencil drawings: Crashing waves are about to sink the Kraken, a whaling ship, where our hero, Billy Marvel, is putting on a show for the sailors.

Man, I was totally lost in Mr. Selznick’s amazing tale.

So lost, I didn’t notice the creepy clump of trees Quixote and I had just wandered into.

We kept walking deeper and deeper into the darkness, because I kept falling deeper and deeper into Brian Selznick’s swirling tale of adventure.

Hey, when I’m into a book, I crawl in all the way!

On the illustrated pages, lightning flashed and thunder boomed. Billy was about to be swept overboard as the ship sank!

I could hear the wooden beams of the Kraken creaking and groaning as the waves pounded its sides.

Splinters and wood chips showered down all around me.

(Yeah, actual wood stuff falling from the sky was a little weird. Even for a guy who totally lives in his imagination like me.)

Then the crackling and snapping grew louder. It sounded like trees were exploding all around me! Seconds later, the splintering sounds were blasted away by the humongous rumbling THWUMP and WARBLE of unearthly engines.

The darkness was replaced by a dusty shaft of bright white light.

I finally looked up from my book. Quixote looked up, too. Then he whimpered and tucked his tail between his legs.

Because the two of us were standing right where the hovering alien spaceship wanted to land.

Chapter 3

Greetings, People Not of Earth

The flying saucer snapped off a few more branches as it completed its slow descent to the ground and settled with a soft, airy KOOSH!

Quixote whined and grumbled. I think he wanted to go home.

Not me. I wanted to see who (or what) was inside the spaceship!

A side door ZHURRR-WHOOSHed open. A gangplank slid forward. And the parade started! Just about every creature from every space story ever told was crammed on board that one ship!

It was like a minivan hauling the all-star soccer team from all the stars.

Some I recognized from movies and TV. Others were from books, like Mrs. Whatsit from Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and Hilo from The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick.

They were all extremely friendly, so we spent the night sitting around, talking.

The space creatures all thought some of the things we earthlings had were weird. Like spray cheese in a can. And silly string in a can. And joke-store springy snakes that jump out of cans.

Yes, they were seriously hung up on cans. Maybe because they spend so much time sealed up inside spaceships.

And farts. None of them understood farts.

“Is this some kind of internal gas-powered jet propulsion you employ after eating beans?” they wondered.

That’s when a guy with a bubble-brain head and ginormous bug eyes spoke up. I wasn’t exactly sure what movie or book he came from. Probably one like The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells where the aliens aren’t all that cute and cuddly.

“We have a very important message for the planet Earth,” the alien said in a mechanical voice (he sounded like he ate computer chips for lunch every day). “Extremely, enormously, urgently important.”

Yep, this was first contact, the very first official words humans had ever received from outer space, and I was going to be the human doing all the receiving!

Roughly translated, what the big head basically said was “Your planet is in really, really, really deep doo-doo.”

(I can’t repeat the actual words the spaceman used. Moms and teachers don’t like that kind of language. If I used the actual words, they wouldn’t let kids read this book, and if that happened, you’d miss a really cool story.)

“The people of earth,” the space ambassador continued, “must read more, and learn more, and think a whole lot more. Or else.”

I gulped a little. Quixote whimpered again.

“You must assist your fellow earthlings in this effort!” said another one of the aliens. “You must open a book company, Jimmy!”

“Do this you must,” added Yoda.

“Or else,” said Marvin the Martian.

And he was aiming his ray gun straight at me!

Chapter 4

Meanwhile, Back in Reality…

Okay, okay, okay.

You’ve probably already figured out that this wasn’t how JIMMY Books got started. It wasn’t because aliens landed in California and told me I had to do it to save the planet.

But it shows you just how much I love stories.

Love, love, love ’em!

You also know that I did, eventually, start JIMMY Books. I mean, you’re reading a JIMMY Book, right? If I’d never started the company we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

So here’s how it really happened. The truth. You could shelve this next bit in the nonfiction section because it’s the real deal. Except for where I might exaggerate. Or make up another story for the fun of it. But even then it’s still mostly true.

Like I said before all those aliens landed, everyone should have a dream. Maybe a couple of dreams. My dream was to start an amazing book company while I was still a kid. That’s right. This wasn’t going to be one of those “when I grow up, I wanna” kind of dreams they make you write about in middle school essays.

Nope. I wanted to create a book company for kids, by kids, and of kids. That was my dream.

The girl who lived next door? She dreamed about leaving her room and playing with all the kids she watched out her window every day.

Her name was Madison. She was severely asthmatic and had a bunch of other health problems with complicated names that sound weirder than the alien word for “deep doo-doo.”

The grown-ups all called my next-door neighbor “sickly.”

I just called her Maddie.

Maddie was the reason I always carried twice as many library books in my backpack as I could ever read before they were due. Half were for me, half were for her.

The librarian at school, Ms. Nicole Sprenkle, was cool about it, too. Hey, she might’ve loved books even more than me—if that’s mathematically possible.

Whenever I visited Maddie I had to wear a sterile mask. I didn’t mind. I just pretended I was a doctor or a bank robber or a test pilot flying at the speed of sound.

“How’d you like to be stranded in a blizzard at the Washington, DC, airport?” I asked Maddie, handing her a copy of Kate Messner’s Capture the Flag.

She sort of shrugged. “I guess it would be okay.”

“Okay?” I said. “Why, before long, I bet you’d be tracking down the despicable thieves who just stole the two-hundred-year-old flag that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired Francis Scott Key to write ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ Too bad none of the grown-ups will listen to you or your friends after you present your evidence about what the bad guys are up to.”

Maddie practically ripped the book out of my hands and dove right in.

It made her dream come true. For 240 pages, she was out of her room and on an action-packed adventure in Washington, DC, that included a thrilling trip along airport baggage conveyor belts!

Yep. Books can be better than an amusement park. They’ll take you on all sorts of wild rides. And you don’t have to worry about long lines or finding a place to park.

That night, Maddie called me. She’d already finished Capture the Flag.

“Jimmy?” she said.


“Give me another book. Please?”

Chapter 5

Working on a Dream

I figured there were tons of kids just like Maddie all over the world.

Not that they were sick all the time. But they were hungry—maybe even starving—for fun and exciting books.

That meant I would need to make lots and lots of books. But how could I pull it off? Don’t forget, I was just a kid. Still am. But being a kid has its advantages. For one thing, we eat a lot of delicious sugary snacks. Sugar will keep your mind buzzing. Plus, kids wake up earlier than adults. That’s why they invented cartoons, which we watch while eating sugary cereal. Talk about a mental buzz.

After brainstorming for weeks, it was time to start putting my thoughts down on paper. I drew sketches whenever and wherever I could of what I wanted my book company to look like.

By the way, drawing while walking gets easier with practice.

Still, I don’t recommend doing it while riding a bike or skateboarding. You bump into stuff. Stuff like fire hydrants and lamp poles.

I was obsessed.

All the kids at school were totally into my dream, too.

“I want to work at your book company!” said my good friend Chris Grabbetts. “I like writing.”

“You mean you have fun making up stories, too?”

“Sometimes. But mostly, I like writing. Especially cursive. I’m thinking about taking up calligraphy, except I don’t know how to spell it.” Like always, Chris was joking around.

“Instead of freight elevators, you need a Ferris wheel to move books from one floor to the other,” suggested my bud Raphael Katchadopoulos, whom everybody calls Rafe. He’s pretty good with markers and a sketchpad so he doodled a quick visual. I love, love, loved it.

“You also need a bowling alley,” said Chris.

I raised both eyebrows. “A bowling alley?”

He shrugged. “I like to bowl.”

“I’ll put a lane over here near the Ping-Pong and foosball tables,” said Rafe, his pen scribbling across the page.

“You need a bouncy house,” said Maxine Peterman, another great pal of mine. “A place where employees can eat and goof off on their lunch break.”

“But won’t all that bouncing up and down make people lose their lunch?” worried Chris.

“Even better,” said Maxine with a shrug. “Projectile vomit is always fun.”

With everybody’s awesome ideas, my dream factory was inching closer and closer to becoming a reality. At the end of the month, I had an actual blueprint—mostly because I drew it with a blue ballpoint pen.

Yep, everybody at school was super excited about my big idea.

My parents?

Not so much.

Chapter 6

Meet the ’Rents

So this is Mom and Dad.

Dad’s a big-time CPA, a certified public accountant. That means he crunches numbers for other people and does their taxes for them. Mom is a hotshot lawyer. The kind that handles tax stuff. I sometimes wonder if Mom and Dad met on April fifteenth. You know—tax day.

Mom never goes to court or does anything dramatic like, say, the awesome Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. Instead of drama and excitement, my parents both have huge, boxy briefcases filled with paper. Not books. Paper. Reams and reams of it. Dad’s papers are covered in lines, grids, graphs, and numbers. Mom’s have Post-it notes sticking out between the pages.

You know how most grown-ups work nine to five? My mom and dad work five to nine. That’s right. They head to their offices at 5 a.m. and don’t come home until 9 p.m., just in time to ask me if I finished my homework and say a quick good night.

I sometimes wondered if I was actually an orphan, like some of my favorite characters in books. Harry Potter. Anne Shirley. Oliver Twist. Cinderella.

In fact, I had a hunch that my real parents had been eaten by an angry rhinoceros so the couple I called my mother and father were actually my aunt Sponge and uncle Spiker. I kept waiting for an enormous enchanted orange to grow on a barren orange tree in our backyard so I could fly in it like a hot-air balloon, meet a bunch of friendly talking bugs, and set sail for New York City!

But then I realized, that wasn’t my story. It was James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl—I just changed the fruit because I’d had orange juice for breakfast.

Yep, there are a lot of orphans in books. Comic books, too. Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Daredevil, Robin, Aquagirl—all those superheroes without any ’rents.

Sometimes, that’s how I felt.

Minus the X-ray vision or web-slinging.

My superpower?


Chapter 7

Sharing My Dream

Late one night, after Mom and Dad had both been home for like thirty minutes, I decided to show them my dream on paper.

Actually, it was more like a dream on papers. I kept having more and more great ideas. So I taped all the different sketches together in one ginormous quilt, which I rolled up and carried into the dining room.

It was maybe ten o’clock. They were both sitting at the table, not eating. Cardboard and Styrofoam cartons of cold takeout food sat next to their stacks of papers.

I tiptoed into the room with my tube of taped-together sketches.

“Mom? Dad?” I said. “I want to show you something.”

“Is it your homework?” asked Dad. “Because it’s tax season, Jimmy, and I really need to finish these forms for Ferguson Fine Furniture before I can even look at your algebra equations.”


On Sale
Aug 28, 2017
Page Count
304 pages

James Patterson

About the Author

James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author, best known for his many enduring fictional characters and series, including Alex Cross, the Women’s Murder Club, Michael Bennett, Maximum Ride, Middle School, I Funny, and Jacky Ha-Ha. Patterson’s writing career is characterized by a single mission: to prove to everyone, from children to adults, that there is no such thing as a person who “doesn’t like to read,” only people who haven’t found the right book. He’s given over a million books to schoolkids and over forty million dollars to support education, and endowed over five thousand college scholarships for teachers. He writes full-time and lives in Florida with his family.

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