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Middle School: Master of Disaster
With Chris Tebbetts
Illustrated by Jomike Tejido
Formats and Prices
- Audiobook Download (Unabridged)
- ebook $9.99 $12.99 CAD
- Hardcover $13.99 $18.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around February 17, 2020. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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WHAT’S THe STORY?
Man, have I got a story for you!
Actually, scratch that. I have a whole bunch of stories, but let me catch you up first.
You might be wondering who I am and why I’m here. Well, this whole thing started after I recently put together my own book company. People said I’d never pull that off, and when I did, I thought, Why not keep going? So when my friend Max Einstein suggested putting on the world’s biggest show to get every kid in America excited about books, stories, and reading, I was all about it.
So I got together an amazing team of storytellers, including our friend Rafe Khatchadorian.
I pulled a few strings and booked some awesome musical guests.
I filled out about two tons of paperwork and got permission to use the National Mall in Washington, DC.
Then we all worked for months to spread the word and bring the whole thing together.
And guess what? It was actually happening!
By the time I got up on stage that day, we had about ten thousand people on the National Mall, not to mention another zillion watching on their TVs, computers, and phones across the country. Standing there in front of all those people and cameras, I felt about as nervous as a goldfish at a shark family reunion.
But you didn’t come here to listen to me talk about this stuff. You came for the show. You came for the stories, just like everyone else. So let’s get to it.
“Okay, everyone!” I said, and my voice boomed out over the National Mall. “You might have heard of our first storyteller from books like Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life, or movies like… well… Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life. Some people might call him a world-class troublemaker, but he’s pretty awesome at telling stories, too. So make some noise for my friend—the kid, the myth, the legend in his own hometown… Rafe Khatchadorian! Take it away, Rafe!”
DeeP SPACe, DeePeR TROuBLe
First of all, let me tell you that everything in this story really happened. It’s just that some of it happened in my real life, and some of it happened in my imagination.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
So there I am one day, speeding along the edge of the galaxy in my one-man FTL cruiser. I’ve got the thrusters maxed out, way past the speed of light, and I’m passing planets, wormholes, supernovas, and space trash like they’re snails along the highway.
No big deal. Just an average Tuesday afternoon in deep space… right up until my navigation alert system lights up like an intergalactic Christmas tree.
“Warning!” says a robotic voice. “You are approaching a hostile alien craft. Impact at current velocity will occur in six point two seconds.”
It’s not just any hostile sector, either. I’ve stumbled into the Stricker Quadrant, the most dangerous neighborhood in the known universe. I should have been paying closer attention. That’ll teach me to eat chips and salsa while I’m jetting at 1.843 times the speed of light.
With a flick of my thumb, I reverse all thrusters. I cut the engines as fast as I can. But it’s not fast enough. All it does is slow me down just before—SKRA-PLAM!—I crash straight into the mother of all mother ships.
I’m dazed. I’m confused. I try to scramble into my survival pod so I can jettison myself to safety, but there’s no time for that. A huge robotic claw sweeps out from the side of the mother ship and pries open my cruiser like a can of tuna fish.
“WHAT IN THE WORLD DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?” a voice booms out, as the claw reaches again and grabs me by the collar of my space suit.
And that’s when I know for sure that I’ve just flown my last mission.
Rafe? I asked you a question! What in the world do you think you’re doing?!”
I shook my head to clear my thoughts. I blinked a couple of times.
And I realized, of course, that I wasn’t in the outer reaches of space. It was just an out-of-the-way hallway at my school.
And I hadn’t been piloting a spaceship at all. It was just my new skateboard. I’d been itching all day to try it out on the super-smooth hallways after school let out.
And even though I hadn’t just been nabbed by a hostile alien species, I was in danger. Big-time. Because I’d just crashed my board right into the last person on earth you’d want to do that to.
Also known as my principal, Mrs. Stricker.
“On second thought,” Mrs. Stricker said, “I don’t care what you think you’re doing. Just march!”
Less than a minute later, I was back in the principal’s office—again—and waiting for my latest punishment—again.
I don’t want to brag, but if Hills Village Middle School had a Detention Hall of Fame, they’d practically have to name it after me. So I was pretty sure about what was coming next.
But I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
“Rafe, today just might be your lucky day,” Mrs. Stricker told me. “Normally, I’d give you at least five detentions for a stunt like that. However, I want to offer you a deal.”
“Excuse me?” I said.
The thing is, Mrs. Stricker doesn’t do deals. Not unless “buy one detention, get ten free” counts. “It sounded like you just said you wanted to offer me a deal,” I told her. “But that can’t be right.”
“You heard me correctly,” Mrs. Stricker said. “We’re in a rare moment where you actually might be of assistance to me, for once in your life. Extraordinary, I know. Here is your choice: you can either report to detention every Tuesday for the next five weeks, or—”
“I’ll take the other thing,” I said.
It didn’t matter what it was. If I got another month’s worth of detention, my brain was going to shrivel up and die of boredom. Seriously.
“Very well,” she said, and got up to go. “Follow me.”
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“Across the street to the elementary school,” she said. And I thought, Did I just get myself sent back to fifth grade? Maybe Mrs. Stricker was so sick of me, she was sending me back to my old school.
But it wasn’t that, either.
“Mrs. Melindez broke her leg slipping on a ketchup spill in the cafeteria today,” Mrs. Stricker said. “I’ve been asked to find a substitute teacher for the after-school art program. That’s going to be you.”
“Seriously?” I said. “I can’t believe you want me to teach anything.”
“I don’t,” she said. “But I am in a bit of a pinch at this late hour.”
“Wow,” I said. “That must be some pinch!”
I mean, I know something about art. It’s my best subject in school. Actually, it’s my only good subject in school. But still, I’m about as far from being a teacher as you can get. I’m more like the kid who makes teachers wish they’d chosen some other profession.
Not that I was arguing. I mean, one hour of teaching art to little kids, in exchange for five hours of detention? That was a good deal.
Besides, it was too late to turn back now.
Operation: Nuclear Sub(stitute Teacher) was under way.
You will stick to the basics. Paint, drawing, or clay,” Mrs. Stricker said while we walked, double time, over to the elementary school. “You will give the students an assignment they can take home at the end of the hour. And you will behave responsibly, or you will be sent back to detention. Have you got that?”
“Got it,” I said.
“Good, because here we are,” she said.
We were standing outside a closed classroom door now. On the other side, it sounded like someone was moving furniture. And breaking things.
And I heard yelling, too. Lots and lots of yelling.
“What’s all that noise?” I asked.
“That,” she told me, “is your class.”
“Good luck,” she said. I had a feeling the rest of that sentence was something like “because you’re going to need it.” But Mrs. Stricker didn’t stick around long enough for me to find out.
So I reached out, opened the art-room door, and—
It was like getting punched in the face. By a tornado. Made of third graders.
“Okay, you guys!” I called out. “Everyone come over here, sit down, and listen up.”
I’ll give you four guesses for what happened after that:
(A) Everyone came over here
(B) Everyone sat down
(C) Everyone listened up
(D) None of the above
If you guessed (D), you win. Meanwhile, I hadn’t even started and I was already losing. I could just smell those detentions getting closer.
So what do I do next? I move on to Plan B, of course. I reach out and push the big red button on the wall. The one marked SCHOOL-BOT 2000 AUTOMATED SYSTEM. USE ONLY IN EMERGENCIES.
Then I let the automated system do the rest.
A secret panel slides open in the ceiling. Twelve metal Frisbees with embedded homing devices fly out and hover in the air next to me, waiting for their next command.
“Fetch!” I tell them. And just like that, they move in on their targets, each one attaching itself to the butt of a different kid.
“SYSTEM ENGAGED!” the system tells me. Which means I’m ready for Plan B, Phase Two.
“What’s going on?” a little kid asks.
“I can’t get this thing off me!” another says.
“Proceed to Phase Two!” I tell the system.
A loud humming noise fills the air as the electric magnets in the art-room seats buzz to life.
“Hey!” another kid says, as he’s pulled across the room by the back of his pants.
“What’s happening?” another asks, just before—CLUNK!—his metallized rear end attaches to the magnets in his chair. Followed by eleven others.
And just like that, I’ve taken control of my class.
Not bad for a first-time substitute, huh?
The only problem being, of course, that I wasn’t so lucky. But you already knew that, didn’t you?
In fact, I was still just standing there, wondering how to get twelve little kids to sit down, make some art, and keep me from landing in middle-school prison every Tuesday for the next five weeks. Which meant it was time for the real Plan B.
So I did what older brothers have done for all of eternity, whenever they need to get something done.
“HEY!” I yelled in my big-brother-est voice. “EVERYONE PIPE DOWN AND FIND A SEAT OR I’M NOT GOING TO BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!”
That used to work on my little sister, Georgia, every time. It doesn’t anymore, but it sure got these kids’ attention. They all stopped and stared at me like I actually meant what I said. And after that, everything went just great.
For about another twenty seconds.
LeT’S TRY THAT AGAiN
Now that I had their attention, I passed out paper, paints, and paintbrushes to get the kids going. Maybe this wasn’t going to be so hard after all.
“Okay, guys, here’s what you’re going to do,” I said. “I want you to paint a picture of your house.”
“That’s SO boring!” one kid said.
“I hate painting!” another kid said.
“Can I paint something else?” someone asked.
“No,” I said. “That’s the assignment, and that’s that.”
I really did sound like a teacher now, which was kind of depressing. But I couldn’t afford to mess around.
“Any questions?” I asked, and one girl’s hand shot up. “What’s your name?”
“Melinda,” she said.
“Thanks for raising your hand, Melinda,” I said. “And what’s your question?”
“Where’s Jake?” she asked.
“Who?” I asked.
“Jake,” another kid said. “You know. Jake.”
I still didn’t know which one was Jake, so I did a quick head count of my twelve students and came up with… eleven heads.
“Did anyone see Jake?” I asked, and all eleven hands went up. “Great! And who saw where he went?” All eleven hands went back down.
Oh, man! I didn’t know how many detentions I might get for losing an actual kid, but something told me it was more than five.
Okay, Khatchadorian, I thought. Don’t panic. You’ve got this.
“Everyone just wait here,” I said. Right before I realized that probably wasn’t a good idea.
“Actually, everyone come with me,” I said. Right before I realized that wasn’t such a good idea, either. The second we left that room, all eleven of them were going to spin off in eleven different directions.
So I thought of something else.
“Change of plans,” I said. “Everyone give me your shoelaces.”
“What for?” Melinda asked.
“The faster you give me your shoelaces, the sooner you’ll find out,” I said.
It took a few more minutes after that, but pretty soon, I was ready to go.
“All right, people, let’s move out,” I told them. “Keep your eyes peeled and your minds sharp. Operation: Find Jake At All Costs is a go!”
HiDe AND SeeK (AND SeeK, AND SeeK)
We turned that school upside down. We went up the hall, shouting for Jake and looking in every open room. We checked the boys’ bathrooms. We checked the girls’ bathrooms. We checked the music room, the auditorium, the gym, the locker rooms, and the underside of all the buses in the parking lot.
By the time we headed back to the art room, it was 4:15 and I had exactly fifteen minutes to find Jake and get the kids to make some art before the parents showed up. Either that, or leave town and never show my face in Hills Village again.
But then it turned out that I didn’t have to decide. Because when we got back, there was Jake, sitting at one of the tables.
“Where have you guys been?” he asked.
“Where have we been?” I asked. “Where were you?”
He pointed down, under his table. “Taking a nap,” he said. “We had subtraction today, and math makes me really sleepy.”
And while I could relate to the math part, I didn’t have time to be mad. I now had fourteen minutes left, and the kids were already getting crazy again. I had to yank one of them off the windowsill just before she could climb outside.
And that’s when it hit me. These kids were like twelve of me. Twelve little Rafes, running around like crazy, getting into trouble, and just about impossible to focus.
So I needed something to get their attention. Something that would have gotten my attention when I was their age.
And then my brain went STORM! And I knew what we were going to do.
“Okay, guys,” I told them. “We don’t have much time, so I have a new idea. I want you all to paint me instead.”
“BORING!” said the same kid as the last time.
“That’s even more boring than painting a house!” Melinda said.
“No, it’s not,” I said. “See, I don’t think you’re getting my drift. Let me try that again.…”
For the rest of the hour, the kids really got into the assignment. I didn’t have to make them do anything at all. They tackled this one like it was chocolate cake.
By the time the parents got there, our group project was done. It was a masterpiece! Well, close enough, anyway.
And all the kids wanted to get their picture taken next to their new creation so they could print out the photo at home and put it up on their refrigerators.
Because they’d done exactly what I’d told them to do.
They’d painted me.
When Mrs. Stricker came in to see how everything had gone, she looked like she was going to self-destruct.
“What in the WORLD…?” she started to say, just before Melinda’s mom interrupted.
“Mrs. Stricker, I don’t know what you told this young man, but I’ve never seen my daughter more excited about art!!” she said. “I certainly hope he’ll be teaching the rest of your art program!”
The other kids were nodding. The parents were smiling. And Mrs. Stricker looked like Melinda’s mom had just been speaking Martian.
“I, uh… well… uh.…” she said. “The original teacher is going to be out for a while with a broken leg. So… I suppose that’s up to Rafe.”
And since something told me I was going to need to cash in some of my other detentions (the ones I hadn’t gotten yet), and also because I ended up having a blast with those crazy kids (believe it or not), I said that sounded like a good idea to me.
So who knows? Maybe I have a whole career as an art teacher ahead of me. Or maybe I just got lucky that day. All I know for sure is that sometimes, a little imagination can go a long way.
And a lot of imagination can go even further.
ONe STeP FORWARD, ONe VeRY BiG STeP BACK
As soon as Rafe was done on stage, I came out to introduce our first musical guest—Maroon 5, who started rocking the house while the audience went wild. (I told you it was going to be a big show!)
Right after that, I heard Storm Kidd’s voice over my headset.
“Okay, everyone, we have four minutes until our next storyteller, Bick Kidd. Would Bick Kidd please report to the stage? Bick Kidd to the stage, please.”
“You can just call me Bick,” he radioed back. “I am your brother, after all.”
“Less talking, more walking, little brother,” Storm said. “You’re up next.”
As for Storm, I couldn’t think of a better person to have as our stage manager on this monster show. Broadcasting to millions of people meant keeping track of millions of details, and if Storm were a computer, she’d be the kind with an eighteen-terabyte brain.
So everything was going great, right?
Well, yes and no.
“Jimmy,” Storm said. “You have a visitor, and I think we have a little problem. By which I mean, I think we have a big problem.”
When I got off stage, I saw a lady in a business suit waiting for me. I didn’t know what she wanted, but that suit gave me a bad feeling. She looked like the only person for a mile around who wasn’t there to have a good time.
“Hi, I’m Jimmy,” I said. “Can I help you?”
“I certainly hope so,” she said, and handed me her business card. “My name is Violet Bash, and I’m here from the Washington Association of Special Permits.”
“The… W.A.S.P.?” I said.
“That’s correct,” she said. “I understand you’ve advertised this festival to run all day?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said. “We’re just getting started. We’re going to have stories on the main stage, open mic, music, and all kinds of other—”
“Doubtful,” she said. “According to the paperwork you filed with our office, you’re only permitted to use this space for another”—she stopped to look at her watch—“fifty-two minutes.”
“WHAT?” I asked.
“See for yourself,” she said, and stuck a copy of our permit into my hand.
Which is when I started to realize that I’d made a huge mistake.
Like, extra huge.
Do you see where I checked off 12:00 p.m.? That was the problem. I’d intended to make sure we could use the National Mall for the entire day, until midnight. Which is 12:00 a.m.
Praise for Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life:A #1 New York Times Bestseller
A #1 Indiebound BestsellerA 2012 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young ReadersA 2013 Hawaii's Children's Choice Award WinnerA 2013 ALSC Summer Reading List BookA 2010 Oregon Children's Choice Award WinnerA 2014 Oregon Reader's Choice Award Nomine
- * "As Patterson artfully weaves a deeper and more thought-provoking tale of childhood coping mechanisms and everyday school and family realities, readers are drawn into a deeper understanding of and compassion for the main characters."—School Library Journal, starred review
- "A keen appreciation of kids' insecurities and an even more astute understanding of what might propel boy readers through a book.... a perfectly pitched novel."—Los Angeles Times
- "Cleverly delves into the events that make middle school so awkward: cranky bus drivers, tardy slips, bathroom passes and lots of rules.... Hopefully, this isn't the last we hear from Rafe Khatchadorian."—The Associated Press
- "It's a chatty, funny, engaging book.... filled with energetic cartoons... that will appeal to your little rebel, depicting teachers as dungeon-keepers, matadors and flying dragons. Patterson... knows how to structure a plot and builds in some surprising--even touching--twists.... Rafe is the bad boy with a heart of gold."—New York Times
- "The book's... dynamic artwork and message that 'normal is boring' should go a long way toward assuring kids who don't fit the mold that there's a place for them, too."—Publishers Weekly
- "Incredibly detailed and imaginative illustrations... add depth and humor.... an enjoyable story that even the most reluctant readers should enjoy."—Library Media Connection
- "There is substance as well as appeal here.... Patterson deftly manages the pace of revelations that take readers deeper into Rafe's fragile trust.... Readers ready for something else in the same vein but more substantive than Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Peirce's Big Nate should be introduced to Rafe."—The Bulletin
- On Sale
- Feb 17, 2020
- Hachette Audio