Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillainby Richard Roberts
In real life, nothing is that clear. All it takes is one hero's sidekick picking a fight,
Penelope Akk wants to be a superhero. She's got superhero parents. She's got the ultimate mad science power, filling her life with crazy gadgets even she doesn't understand. She has two super-powered best friends. In middle school, the line between good and evil looks clear.
In real life, nothing is that clear. All it takes is one hero's sidekick picking a fight, and Penny and her friends are labeled supervillains. In the process, Penny learns a hard lesson about villainy: She's good at it.
Criminal masterminds, heroes in power armor, bottles of dragon blood, alien war drones, shapeshifters and ghosts, no matter what the super powered world throws at her, Penny and her friends come out on top. They have to. If she can keep winning, maybe she can clear her name before her mom and dad find out.
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- Age Range:
- 13 - 17 Years
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Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain
By Richard Roberts
Curiosity Quills PressCopyright © 2014 Richard Roberts
All rights reserved.
On the last day before I got my super power, I was sulking because I didn't have a super power.
"That's not going to work," Claire warned me.
"It will! I've been studying my Dad's notes," I snapped back.
She tilted her head down and looked at me over her glasses. "You can't give yourself super powers with a double-A battery, Penny."
"It's not the power," I explained. "It's the frequency. Get it just right and it resonates with your whole nervous system and gives it a jolt. I've seen Dad do it. If you have powers, they go off!"
I snapped that at her, too. I was frustrated! I clipped the wire another millimeter and looked at the wavelength reading on the meter. It went down a notch, like it was supposed to. I was dreading the next question. She was going to ask that question.
"So what's the frequency?" Claire asked right on time.
I collapsed on top of the workbench and confessed, "I have no idea."
Claire giggled, but at least she tried to restrain it.
"I was reaching. I knew I couldn't just guess. I don't know. I guess I hoped I'd get lucky," I grumped.
Claire put her hand on my shoulder. "We're supposed to be working on our science fair projects. Mr. Zwelf is being really nice about it."
I pushed myself back up and insisted, "This is my science fair project. It will work! I just have to steal my Dad's notes and do the math. And measure my body weight and stuff. There's a lot of math." A lot of math. A really stupifyingly tremendous amount of math. Pages upon pages of math. Even with a calculator, I'd be up all night handling the algebra.
"You know inventing and science are two different things, right?" Claire had the world's most teasing grin. Like, you looked at those teeth and you couldn't be mad at her for making fun of you, because it really was all in good fun. That's how it worked on me, anyway.
"So what are you doing for your science fair project?" I demanded. I actually hadn't wanted to know. Any excuse to be lab partners with your best friend, right?
"I'm already done! I blind tested photos of Mom when she's using her powers and when she's not using her powers on a bunch of boys. They couldn't tell the difference, which shows her power must be psychic, right?" she answered, so very casual.
"You want your super power as bad as I do!" Hard to sound accusing with a grin like the one stretching my face all of a sudden. This stuff was no secret, but, criminy, obvious much, Claire?
"It's still good scientific method," Ray pointed out, sliding down the workbench with his textbook. If Mr. Zwelf hadn't come down on me and Claire arguing, he wasn't going to pitch a fit if Ray made three.
I turned to him. "What are you doing for your project?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. I'm atrocious at science fair projects. I can never get an idea until the last minute. Right now, I'm looking through the book and hoping inspiration leaps out at me."
"You have trouble with science fair projects? You?" I asked, honestly blown away. Ray was the smartest kid I knew. My folks were celebrated super geniuses who had a framed letter on the wall from the UN thanking them for saving the world, and Ray was smarter than me. He could probably do the stupid math in Dad's notes. I wasn't looking forward to it.
"It's so meaningless and arbitrary. I might as well be measuring plastic cups to find out which ones are more dense," he griped, propping his elbow on the workbench and leaning his head on his fist. His blonde hair was so fluffy, it hung right down over his hand.
Ow! I still had the current on. I'd zapped myself on the antenna. Wasn't much of a charge, but still. I shook my finger and pried out the battery, but I didn't have time to dismantle the antenna. The bell rang.
"Lunch time!" Claire squealed with delight, stretching her arms above her head as Ray stared.
Love triangles suck.
* * *
"Why are you so dramatic today?" Ray asked as I sat down with my tray across from him. Just me and him at our table. I could listen to that inexplicable English accent the whole hour. He didn't know where it came from, and I didn't care.
"I'm not being dramatic today," I argued, trying not to be dramatic about it.
"Yes, you are."
I lifted my head in a show of innocence. "I'm not being dramatic. My parents are dramatic. Mom can reduce a mugger to tears with a speech about the statistical chance of ruining his life going up with every crime. You were there. He was bawling like a baby."
"Does she really prepare those speeches ahead of time?" he asked, grinning. Ray spends half his life grinning, and a third of his life sleeping, and the remaining sixth happens when I'm not around.
"She has a flow chart depending on circumstances. I got to draw the lines the last time she updated it. I was seven." I added that last part because, you know, it's beneath my dignity now.
"You're being dramatic for you," Ray pointed out, zeroing back in on the argument.
He was totally right, but I was saved from admitting it, because Claire had arrived. She brought her lunch, so she should get to the cafeteria early, but she'd never been big on hurrying. I bet her Mom trained her to be fashionably late.
She was heading straight here, so it looked like she'd be sitting with us today. Okay, I needed to watch that snippiness. Claire sits with me most days, it's just that Claire is welcome anywhere. Like most lunch rooms, the cafeteria of Northeast West Hollywood Middle is laid out in an intricate map of feudal kingdoms. The performing art kids have three tables, the computer science kids have a table, me and Claire and Ray have a table. Claudia has a table all to herself, poor girl. I'd invited her over to sit with us once, but she refused. Since Marcia had pulled the "sit with her, then make her the butt of all the jokes" trick on her once, it was hard to blame her. You can't help some people, much as you might want to.
Speaking of Marcia — thinking about Marcia, technically — maybe Claire wouldn't be sitting with us today after all. Marcia made her friends scoot over and pointed at the bench. "Space for you, Claire!"
No, Claire was sitting with us. She gave Marcia a smile and a shake of the head, trying to be polite, but walked right past. Marcia looked like someone'd stuck a rat up her nose. She should have let one of the other girls give the invite. Marcia is a Mean Girl, and she sits at the Popular Table, and, yeah, both exist and everybody knows it. I swear they were only popular with each other, but somehow they were the Popular Girls, even though it's Claire that everyone really likes.
I think our table is the "extroverted geeks" table. Or maybe it really is the "children of superheroes" table. Of course, both leave Ray out. He's quiet with other people. Eh, who am I kidding? The three of us were filed firmly under "other."
"Is Penny still desperate to get her powers?" Claire asked as she slid into place next to me.
"I had managed to distract her until now," Ray answered.
I threw my hands up in the air. "What's wrong with wanting to get my powers as soon as possible?"
"Didn't your parents' powers only surface in college?" Ray pointed out. I think I'd strangle myself if it took that long.
"Mom's power emerged at about my age." Claire was so breezy about it, but everybody knew she'd inherit The Minx's abilities. She'd be less like her Mom if she were a clone. Blonde, wavy hair, a curvy figure already, delicate, blonde doll face, all lips and eyes – pretty much the opposite of my shapeless stick topped with brown, braided pigtails. On her, glasses looked like fashion accessories.
"I can't even be positive I'll get powers. My Dad's thing with science is a brain mutation. He identified it. Mom's a regular human," I grumped.
Claire unbuckled her lunch box with a beatific smile. "My father probably had super powers. I should be a shoo-in."
Ray blushed visibly. Okay, maybe I blushed a bit, too. Claire really didn't know who her father was. Apparently there had been a lot of candidates, thanks to her mother's power of Clouding Men's Minds. If 'minds' was the right word.
And Claire was looking forward to inheriting those powers.
Thank goodness, Ray also wanted to move on. "There's no way your mother is human. Regular humans can't do that," he insisted.
"Chess grandmasters are regular humans. She says it's just focus and study, like Sherlock Holmes." Contrary to what I'd just said, I agreed with him. We'd been passed on the road by a police chase once, and she'd gotten on the radio and told them where to set up a road block, and they caught the criminals. She'd been able to explain it, but when she got to calculating how fast the criminals had intended to drive rather than how fast they were driving, I gave up. I knew she wasn't perfect, but, when villains heard The Audit was coming, they used to give up right there, and I couldn't blame them.
Claire passed me a cup of real gravy, which I poured on the school's bland Salisbury steak. Cutting a slice, I took a bite. The rich gravy made a world of difference. Claire's lunchbox is a collectible antique with Krazy Kat on the cover. Her Mom feeds her like a princess. My Mom makes me buy a cafeteria lunch. I would never have asked, but Claire shares the wealth automatically. She has those looks, and she's generous and kind. Is it any wonder her Mom got a full pardon when she retired? Of course, she'd saved the world a couple of times. What kind of crazy supervillain tries to destroy the world?
Half of them.
I stopped jonesing for super powers before I started and dug into my lunch. A little gravy made the mashed potatoes stop being pulped cardboard, too.
Claire gave Ray a chocolate cupcake, which must have made his sandwiches a thousand times more bearable. Ray eats like he's on the edge of starvation. As skinny as he is, his metabolism must burn like a blow torch. He got done in mere minutes and asked, "How did the big German test go?"
"Nicht so gross. Got a B," Claire admitted.
Ray looked at me.
I couldn't think of any way to brush it off.
I let out a sigh. "I got a C."
"Ow. Really?" asked the boy who never got less than an A on any test in his life.
Not that he was trying to be mean. He was trying to be sympathetic, which made it worse. "I'm pretty sure I'm going to get a C in the class," I admitted. I winced, my whole body tightening up, but it hadn't been ... that bad to say. Just pretty bad.
Ray tried to comfort me. "Everybody has subjects they just don't get. Languages are yours, I guess."
"I'm not supposed to have bad subjects! My parents are the two smartest people in the world!" God, it dug at me. It dug right at my heart. How could I even explain this to them? "Can you imagine the look my Dad gave me when I brought home a B in Algebra II? He was trying to not let me know how disappointed he was. That's the look he had!"
"You weren't even supposed to be in Algebra II. You and Ray are the only kids going across to Upper High for Geometry, and you're getting an A in that," Claire pointed out. She was trying to cheer me up, not blow me off. She didn't get that it just didn't matter.
I couldn't help but feel bitter. Or cheated, maybe. Some kind of ugly emotion, anyhow. "I just want my super powers to activate now. I won't even have to worry about this stuff. I'm smart enough to get this frequency stimulator thing Dad designed working, at least," I grumped.
The bell rang. I wasn't done eating. Oh, well, I'd had the good stuff.
You want to know how good friends Claire and Ray are? When we got up, I noticed a plastic case in her bag. She'd gotten a new superhero collectable figure. She and Ray can geek out about them for hours. They'd kept their mouths shut about it not to rub it in. Then I'd spent the whole lunch period talking about super powers anyway.
* * *
We all had PE together. Half the class was spent changing into and out of our gym clothes, which I bet is why we only had the class on Wednesdays. Sometimes we could get together and talk, like when we were standing in line for the horse. Today was basketball, so no luck there.
The game went about like expected. Two random kids were picked as captains. The boy picked Ray second to last, and the girl picked me last. I wasn't the last person picked, though. The boy still had one more person to pick. Claudia, of course. Ray and I ran around the edge of the crowd until someone threw the ball over everyone's heads, and I jumped up and grabbed it.
Ha! I wasn't the greatest dribbler in the world, but I was in the clear because I hadn't been in the pack in the first place. I dribbled right past Claudia, who didn't even try to stop me, and found myself face to face with Ray. He wasn't a good runner, and he was already so winded I was able to duck right by him. Unfortunately for me, Claire had been lingering on the edges too. She snatched the ball in the middle of one of my clumsy dribbles and passed it to Li, who was a way better shot than either of us.
Still, face to face to face on the basketball court had been cool. I was considering chalking up this gym class as a rare success when the boy captaining his team started to yell. Not "yell," exactly, but he had a nasty tone as he told Claudia, "What is wrong with you? You just stood there! You really are slow in the head, aren't you? At least try to play the game!"
I wondered if I should get Miss Theotan's attention, but it wouldn't do any good. If she'd witnessed it personally, she'd come down on bullying like this like a ton of bricks, but she was on the other side of the court, and if a teacher doesn't see it, it didn't happen. Instead, Claudia turned away from the boy without a word. The crowd of kids taking the ball away from each other again and again turned and lurched in our direction with Claudia in the middle of it. She grabbed the ball as it went past, tossed it over everyone's heads, ran through the crowd, and caught it herself, then launched it from the three point line and sank the basket.
You'd think that would get everyone gabbing and circling around Claudia and she'd finally be popular, right? No, that's not how it works. All of a sudden a girl was complaining to Miss Theotan that it wasn't fair that one team had one more player than the other team, and, as Ray and Claire and I stood around feeling helpless and guilty about it, Claudia ended up sitting on a bench for the rest of the game.
That put my mood right back in the dumps. I dodged Claire and Ray both when class ended, and with it the school day. I didn't step out the school doors until it was exactly time to meet my Mom, driving up to take me home. She didn't ask me about my obvious bad mood, so I didn't have to tell her about the test.
* * *
Nothing eases the sting of social injustice like knowing you'll soon have super powers to help you combat it. Nothing eases the sting of lousy test scores like knowing you'll soon have the ability to absorb and then apply abstract data far beyond mere human limits. If they ever really integrate psychological theory, my Dad will be impossible to live with. Until then, us normal humans have a shot at outwitting him.
Not a good shot. He's still a genius. Still, I had the advantage of experience. I wandered into his office. To my delight, I found him at his computer with an e-reader laid on either side of his keyboard, scrolling slowly down a web page with lots of text and a few teeny, tiny diagrams. The curiosity bug had caught him. He was researching. He'd have no attention left for anything else until it all came together in his head.
Or not. As I picked my way through the stacked up books and lifted the first pile of printed paper to peek at the title "Subliminal Paralyzation Cascades" he spun around in his seat and greeted me. "Hey, Pumpkin! How was school?"
I pointed at the "Pumpkin" jar. He put a dollar in it blithely. It hadn't made him stop, but the penalty really supplemented my pathetic allowance. "Princess" is five bucks, but I'm saving that jar for emergencies.
I needed a plan.
"Where's that paper on the antenna thing that resonates with the human nervous system?" I asked. My plan? Pretend it was something totally normal to ask for.
Dad took off his work glasses, which folded up as he scratched his head. "If you want me to build you one, the answer is 'no.' The shock is too dangerous to be used casually, and not dangerous enough to be a weapon. It didn't even bring Marvelous' powers back. Really a failed project."
Excerpted from Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain by Richard Roberts. Copyright © 2014 Richard Roberts. Excerpted by permission of Curiosity Quills Press.
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.
Meet the Author
Fantasy writer Richard Roberts finds his inspiration in folk tales, fairy tales, and mythology. He is the author of Please Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon, Wild Children, and Sweet Dreams Are Made of Teeth, among other novels.
Emily Woo Zeller's multilingual, multicultural framework led to a natural fit as an audiobook narrator. While she specializes in Asian American narratives, Emily's work spans a broad spectrum, including young adult fiction. She won an AudioFile Earphones Award for her narration of Gulp by Mary Roach.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I would like to thank Curiosity Quills Press for a copy of this e-book to review. Though I received this e-book for free, that has no impact upon the honesty of my review. Without a doubt I found this to be extremely entertaining, filled with unusual situations, great characters, and just plain fun. The characters were very well done, and seemed pretty much spot on for the age group they represent. Penny is like any other middle schooler, happy to be a kid and yet ready to start testing her boundaries. Add being the child of superheroes to that and you know those boundaries aren't quite the same as those any of us have gone through! Penny, Ray, and Claire make a great team, probably because they were best friends long before they became supervillains. Of course Penny was aiming for the superhero side of things, cause that's what she grew up idolizing. Superheroes were her role models, daily and in regular life outside the house. Ray on the other hand never speaks of his family situation to either of the girls, but they know it must be beyond bad. Then there's Claire. Her mom is a superhero now, but before she reformed she was an excellent supervillain. So when Penny's powers suddenly start to develop her friends are right there supporting her. And when things don't quite go as planned they happily lead her into the world of villainy. But the balance between the three remains fair, and they always, always support each other. Sadly for Penny she gets stuck with one of the worst, most clichéd supervillain names out there, which is of course a horrible pun on her own name. With a supervillain name like hers how's she supposed to keep her folks from finding out her secret before she can reverse the direction her new super-powered career has taken? Even though she gets a terrible alias she managed to give Ray a cool name. And of course Claire ended up using one of her own online names, which, being Claire is simply a too-cute-for-words play on her own name. Inwardly Penny wonders how the mastermind of their supervillain team get such a rotten name? Together the three of them make up The Inscrutable Machine. As far as supervillain names go, it fits them since no one knows much about them, which of course makes them inscrutable. Thus far no one, not even themselves really, can figure them out. As much as I enjoyed this book I wonder if it isn't a bit on the long side for a middle grade book. But that may be the adult in me talking. The constant hurdles and challenges the trio face seem to drag on a bit to me, yet I suppose they were necessary in order to set up the big finale. And it was a great ending, with lots of bang for your buck action, and a great message built in so well that it doesn't feel as if it's being force fed to you, or that you've been preached to. It just feels natural and honest, which is how this book felt to me. Pretty surprising given the science fiction/fantasy aspects that are the very framework of the story. I know I'm certainly looking forward to the next book in this series, and I think you will to after reading this one.
One of the most entertaining and well written books I've picked up in ages! It sucked me in and kept me interested right to the end. The plot was great, the characters were great, and my only complaint is that there aren't more books about this group of kids.
This was a wonderfully done supervillain book. I like that the characters didn’t mean to be supervillains but want to be superheroes. It’s a great plot idea. Mr. Roberts has written an excellent book for young readers. His writing style is awesome, and it really got me straight into the story. I read this book in one day – it literally kept me turning the pages. I love the character of Penny, and that she never wanted to be a supervillain, yet she turns out to be an excellent mad science. She is great at the evil laugh too. ;) I think that the main characters act realistically (as middle schoolers). The dialogue is spot on. I hope that there is a sequel to this book, but I also thought the book ended very well even though it is a bit of a cliff-hanger. Bonus points for a really cool cover too. Based on this book, I am looking forward to reading more from Mr. Roberts. *NOTE I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Amazing story and plot.
Very Excellent book. Good exploration of themes (Magic vs Technology, Good vs Evil). Nice romantic subplot.
Every child has dreamed of being a superhero, every adult has probably dreamed of it too, truth be told, and this novel allows readers to feed into that fantasy as Penny and her two best-friends take on the role of super-villain--but don't tell their parents, retired superheros set on squashing the new threat to their society: the three young unidentified super-villains who are wreaking havoc everywhere they go... Although unintentionally evil, the three young villains are lucky more often than not; quick thinking and chance put them in situations that the city eyes as well calculated, menacing, and truly evil. This hilarious mix-up will captivate readers as the story unfolds. With a fast action sequence, humorous situations, and villains who are really good at heart, this novel is sure to bring joy to all its readers. A tad long, but a ton of fun... If you enjoyed The Expendables, Despicable Me, or MegaMind, then this is for you. I highly recommend it to readers of all ages--embrace your childhood fantasies.
Great fun for all ages 4.5 *Book source ~ Many thanks to Curiosity Quills for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review. Penny Akk is the 13-year-old daughter of two superheroes, The Audit (her mom) and The Brain Auk (her dad). She’s impatiently waiting for her super powers to manifest even though they may not do so for a few years yet. But wonder of wonders, they do pop into existence. Only, Penny has no control over them nor can she make them perform at will. Excited and disappointed that she may still have to wait for them to settle, she continues about her life with her two best friends Claire and Ray. However, when her powers spark more and more within a week, and those powers set off Claire’s and Ray’s it’s only a matter of time before they’re out doing things they shouldn’t really be doing. Now, instead of being firmly on the superhero side they are instead pegged as new super villains. One little lie, some omissions and a few misdirections lead to another and another until they are leading the lives of super villains. How are they going to get out of their situation? But the more important question is, will they want to? Very well-written with great characters this is a story I think my kids would love. Who wouldn’t want super powers? I wouldn’t mind some especially if they helped me win the lottery once in awhile. The trio of best friends become, by accident, a team of super villains and then they can’t just admit who they are. So they slide further and further into the super villain arena while still trying to be good because they intend to be “converted” to the superhero community when the time is right. However, they’re enjoying their newfound fame a bit too much to give it up. Heck, most adults would screw up like that and these kids are only 13. At least they try to keep from hurting anyone, causing a lot of property damage or outright stealing. And can I say that Penny’s Machine is pretty freakin’ awesome? That thing alone would be a huge boon to the environment, but she invents some other really cool stuff, too. This is a fun read that I think most people would enjoy.