Waylon! One Awesome Thing


By Sara Pennypacker

Illustrated by Marla Frazee

Cover design or artwork by Marla Frazee

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From the creators of the New York Times bestselling series Clementine comes another chapter book collection that will keep readers engaged and laughing until the very last page.

Waylon has lots of ideas for making life more awesome through science, like teleportation, human gills, and attracting cupcakes by controlling gravity. But it's impossible for him to concentrate on his inventions when he's experiencing his own personal Big Bang.

Arlo Brody is dividing the fourth grade boys into two groups. Waylon would rather be friends with everyone. Well, everyone except the scary new kid, Baxter Boylen.

Waylon's older sister, Neon, is shooting away from the family. He wishes everything would go back to the way it was before she started wearing all black and saying "What's the point?" all the time.

Just when it looks as though Waylon's universe is exploding, something happens to bring it all together again, and it is, without a doubt, One Awesome Thing.


Text copyright © 2016 by Sara Pennypacker

Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Marla Frazee

Cover illustration © 2016 by Marla Frazee

All rights reserved. Published by Disney • Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Disney • Hyperion, 125 West End Avenue, New York, New York 10023.

ISBN 978-1-4847-4632-5

Visit www.DisneyBooks.com

To Carl Sagan, for plugging in so many kids.

S. P.

To Lisa Gilden, who Mrs. Holcomb predicted would be “the first lady astronaut.” Oh, well.

M. F.

Waylon craned his neck. “Moon at the nearest point in its orbit—check. Clouds—check. But Joe, I’m telling you—”

“Are you sure about the clouds?” Beside him, Joe squinted at the sky. “They look so fluffy.”

“Oh, they have plenty of mass,” Waylon assured him. “A medium-sized cumulous cloud weighs as much as eighty elephants. But remember, the effect will barely be—”

“Don’t forget the Airbus A380. That plane is huge. There it is, on the horizon.” Joe flattened himself against the brick wall and chalked a mark at the top of his head.

Waylon sighed. Joe used to be the shortest kid in the class. He was pretty much normal-size now, thanks to a recent growth spurt, but he was still height-crazy. Last week Waylon had made the mistake of mentioning to him that Skylab astronauts had each grown two inches due to zero gravity. “That’s it!” Joe had cried. “Gravity is what’s keeping me down! You’re science-y—do something!” He’d been pestering Waylon ever since.

“Remind me how this is going to work?” Joe asked now.

“Something really dense and really close, like the earth, has a lot of gravity,” Waylon explained again. “But you could counteract it a little bit by stacking the moon, the clouds, and the Airbus above you. But seriously, it probably won’t be enough to notice.”

“How much?”

“Maybe an angstrom, which is really small, Joe! It takes about twenty-five million angstroms to make an inch.”

“I’ll take it!” Joe said. He pressed his shoulders to the wall and grinned.

Actually, Waylon was kind of excited, too. He was buying a special journal this weekend. In it, he would record his life’s work as a scientist. Lately he’d been concentrating on gravity, and he was expecting a big breakthrough soon. If today’s experiment worked, Counteracted gravity to help a friend get taller would look great on the first page of his new journal. “Here comes that plane, Joe,” he cried. “Get ready!”

Just then, Arlo Brody ran up. He head-butted Waylon on the shoulder—not hard, but still, Waylon went sprawling.

Arlo jerked his thumb, and Joe trotted off with a grateful look on his face, as though he’d been waiting all recess for someone to send him away, never mind the getting-taller nonsense.

Arlo Brody was like that—he only had to suggest something, and a person magically felt that it would be an incredible honor to do that exact thing. Waylon suspected the phenomenon was related to Arlo’s hair, which stuck up like a crown. Arlo sure acted as if he was king of the whole school, and all the other kids acted like his subjects.

Waylon watched sadly as the clouds parted, and the Airbus zoomed away. It might be a long time before there was another perfect opportunity. But just then, Arlo smiled down at him, and Waylon felt as if he were basking in the warm glow of royal rays. His mouth automatically smiled back.

Arlo helped Waylon up. “I told you yesterday, you’re on my team. You’re supposed to spend recess with us. We have a name now. Shark-Punchers.”

A bunch of boys had followed Arlo. They bared their shark teeth and head-butted each other.

“Shark-Punchers. That’s our signature move,” Arlo explained. “Get it?”

“Well, but…sharks can’t punch.” Waylon worried that might have sounded offensive, so he added a “Sorry.”

Arlo threw a double punch at the air. “Sure they can. They have fins.”

Waylon had no choice but to correct him. Science was science. “No. A shark’s fins are hydrodynamic. They provide lift like plane wings. And they pivot to change the angle of attack. Also, sharks use them to signal other sharks. But they can’t punch.”

“Whatever,” Arlo said with a grin so big that Waylon’s own cheeks hurt from returning it. “Look, it took me a while to decide whether to put you on my team or not. The blurting-out thing? Like the mucus stuff on Monday? Remember?”

Waylon remembered. Mrs. Fernman had just pointed to New Zealand on the map. Waylon had shot out of his seat. “There are these amazing glowworm caves there, except they’re not really glowworms, they’re fungus gnat maggots, and they drool long glow-in-the-dark mucus strings to attract insects. It’s so awesome!”

Everyone, except for Mrs. Fernman, had cracked up. This happened a lot when he shared something he’d learned on his favorite show, Miracles of the Natural World. He didn’t understand the reaction—if someone had just told him something so interesting, he would be thanking that person, not laughing. But he had never minded it.

Until right now. Theblurting-out thing???

“But even with the blurting-out thing,” Arlo went on, “you’re obviously a brain. I’m putting the brains and the jocks on my team.”

Arlo beamed another shiny smile, and once more Waylon beamed it back.

Why had he done that? Waylon didn’t want to be put on any team at all. He wished Arlo hadn’t started the whole team thing in the first place. So why had his mouth just smiled back at Arlo?

Alien Hand Syndrome, he knew, was a rare disorder where a person loses control over one of his or her hands. It was his absolute favorite of all the conditions listed in Chapter Five, “Bizarre but True,” in The Science of Being Human. But he’d never heard of Alien Mouth Syndrome.

Waylon forced his lips into a non-smiling position. “Are those the only choices?” he asked. “Brains or jocks?”

“You could be both, like me, but otherwise, yeah, one or the other. Except for Willy.” Arlo crooked a finger at the Shark-Punchers, and Willy trotted out.

Willy looked anxious. Of course, he had been looking anxious since Day One of fourth grade. This was because for the first time he wasn’t in the same class as his twin sister, Lilly. For weeks now, he had been skittering around in a state of nervous panic.

“Willy’s our artist,” Arlo explained.

Waylon bit his lip to keep from saying But Willy can only draw sharks. Clementine is the artist in our class, because he knew what Arlo would say. Arlo had explained the rule yesterday: Teams are boys only.

“He’s going to draw our logo. A shark, punching. Remember? All he has to learn to draw is the punching part. Easy. Right, Willy?”

Arlo seemed proud of this idea, but Willy looked petrified. Arlo threw an arm around his shoulders. “Forget the fins. Just make the shark’s head a fist. With teeth. Okay?”

Willy looked around desperately. Waylon could tell he expected Lilly to be right beside him, telling him what to do.

“Disambiguation, Willy. Phantom Limb Syndrome,” Waylon explained in a soothing tone. “When an arm or a leg gets amputated, people still feel like it’s there. You have Phantom Sister Syndrome.”

Now Willy appeared even more terrified of Waylon than he was of Arlo. “My sister wasn’t amputated!” he howled. “She’s just in Room 4C!” He dove back into the bunch of Shark-Punchers.

Arlo shot his pack a grinning thumbs-up, which they all returned. He spun back to Waylon. “We can get started now. Everyone’s on a team.”

Waylon scanned the playground. The girls were sprinkled all around, playing or talking in little groups. But it was true that the fourth grade boys were divided. Half were clumped behind Arlo. The other half lined the fence, keeping a nervous eye on Arlo’s clump. “What do we have to do?” Waylon asked.

“I told you yesterday. Stuff,” Arlo answered. “Against the other team.”


“Because they’re against us.”


“We’re against them. Doing stuff. Come on, let’s go. It’s going to be cool.”

Waylon considered the Shark-Punchers. Lots of his friends were there. Matt, whose mother worked at the aquarium. Matt let him explore behind the tanks with him whenever he wanted. Rasheed, who’d been building a duct-tape city with him since first grade. Zack, who was teaching him soccer.

Then he looked over at the other group. A lot of his friends were there, too. Charlie was the funniest kid in fourth grade. He and Waylon were working on a cartoon strip about astrophysics. Marco was studying to become a famous chef. He tried out new recipes on weekends and shared the leftovers with Waylon on Mondays. Next to Marco was Joe, who shared his dog, Buddy, with Waylon sometimes. Joe was so nice, he even let Waylon call Buddy Galaxy, and Buddy was so nice, he answered to it.

Waylon didn’t get it. Until last week, everybody in the class had been friends, or at least they hadn’t been not-friends. Why had Arlo gone and messed that up?

Just then, the Recess-Is-Over bell rang.


  • PRAISE FOR COMPLETELY CLEMENTINE: "The plot unfolds gently onward, seamlessly interweaving threads that are just right for their audience. Frazee's breezy pen-and-ink half-page, full-page, and spot illustrations capture Clementine's frenetic energy and goofy panache to expand upon already rich portrayals of her frazzled-but-loving parents, patient teacher, and similarly beset classmates. A warm, bittersweet sendoff for a beloved literary friend."—Horn Book
  • PRAISE FOR COMPLETELY CLEMENTINE: "Pennypacker puts a pleasing bow on the popular series, giving Clementine a complicated family situation to deal with and allowing her to explore the feelings that come with being angry at someone you love. Ingenious, too, is the way she finds for Clementine to finally resolve the situation, reminding readers that love can be as important as taking a stand. Frazee's illustrations always charm, and that's true here."

On Sale
Apr 4, 2017
Page Count
224 pages

Sara Pennypacker

About the Author

Sara Pennypacker splits her time between Florida and Massachusetts, were she feels lucky to be able to write every day. She is the author of many children’s books, including Waylon! One Awesome Thing and Waylon! Even More Awesome, the New York Times #1 bestseller Pax; seven in the New York Times bestselling Clementine series; two in the Stuart series; Meet the Dullards; Summer of the Gypsy Moths; and Sparrow Girl. Her books have won numerous accolades, including a Golden Kite Award, a Christopher Award, and several children’s choice state awards, and they have appeared on many Best Books of the Year lists. For more information, visit http://www.sarapennypacker.com.

Marla Frazee illustrated Waylon! One Awesome Thing and Waylon! Even More Awesome and all of the books in the Clementine series. She was awarded a Caldecott Honor on two occasions: for All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, and her own A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever. She is also the author-illustrator of Roller Coaster, Walk On!, Santa Claus the World’s Number One Toy Expert, and The Boss Baby, which inspired a major motion picture. Marla has three grown sons, and works in a small backyard cabin under an avocado tree. Visit her at http://www.marlafrazee.com.

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