You Can't Have My Planet: But Take My Brother, Please

You Can't Have My Planet: But Take My Brother, Please

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by James Mihaley
     
 

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Thirteen-year-old Giles is the last person anyone would expect to save the planet. he's not as charming as his little sister, and not as brainy as his goody-goody older brother. But when Giles witnesses an alien realtor showing Earth to possible new tenants, he knows he'd better do something. With the help of an alien "attorney" and the maddest scientist in

Overview

Thirteen-year-old Giles is the last person anyone would expect to save the planet. he's not as charming as his little sister, and not as brainy as his goody-goody older brother. But when Giles witnesses an alien realtor showing Earth to possible new tenants, he knows he'd better do something. With the help of an alien "attorney" and the maddest scientist in middle-grade fiction, Giles just might save humans from eviction from Earth. Let's hope so. The alternatives are...not so hospitable.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Middle-child Giles feels painfully average: “In the sandwich of my family, I was the flavor that couldn’t be tasted.” Wedged between his older brother, “King Goodie-Goodie,” and his sister, a violin prodigy, 13-year-old Giles longs for a quest to make him a hero. One soon presents itself after Giles witnesses Jerry, “king of Intergalactic Realty,” attempt to sell planet Earth to Queen Mooby, King Zoodle, and their aptly named daughter, Princess Petulance. Humans will be evicted and beamed to the planet Desoleen unless Giles and his young alien attorney (and crush) Tula can clean the island of Manhattan in 24 hours. With help from two friends, an array of wild inventions, and fellow New York City kids, Giles might just save Earth. Packed with self-deprecating asides and cornball humor, Mihaley’s debut, though imaginative, strains too hard after humor as it hopscotches from one bizarre twist to the next. Giles’s quest is overly convoluted, and only the most dedicated readers are likely to stick with it until the tidy (in multiple senses) ending. Ages 9–12. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

“…imaginative…” —Publishers Weekly

“...action-packed...” —BCCB

“There is plenty of humor in this debut novel…” —School Library Journal

School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Feeling betrayed by his "goody-goody" older brother who now only cares about his grades, 13-year-old Giles is alone when he comes upon an alien realtor showing Earth to prospective new tenants. A lease signed by Adam and Eve is produced, and Giles learns that the entire human race is going to be evicted due to poor stewardship of the planet. The only way to avoid it is for Giles to clean up Manhattan in 24 hours to prove to the judge at the Halls of Universal Justice that humans can change their ways. With the help of his alien "attorney," Tula, and some high-tech gadgets, Giles embarks on his mission to save humankind from being exiled to the desolate planet of Desoleen. There is plenty of humor in this debut novel, but little character development as more time is devoted to introducing as many extraterrestrials and gadgets as possible. The plot moves quickly, but there are missed opportunities. A revenge plan by Princess Petulance involving Giles's grandmother is rushed and loses emotional impact, and even the triumphant call to arms of the city's youth is too hurried to be truly appreciated. Readers looking for a humorous take on aliens or world-saving will be better served by Jon Scieszka's Spaceheadz (S & S, 2010) or Adam Rex's The True Meaning of Smekday (Hyperion, 2007).—Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL
Kirkus Reviews
Shovels full of throwaway gags and silly aliens fail to lighten this overstuffed and entirely predictable debut. Handed a planetary lease signed by Adam and Eve, 13-year-old Giles learns that since humanity has done a lousy job of caring for the Earth, everyone will be transported to the concrete wasteland of Desoleen to make way for new owners unless he removes all the trash and graffiti from Manhattan Island in 24 hours and adds five million leaves to clear the air. Fortunately he has allies--notably cute, blue-skinned lawyer (soon girlfriend) Tula and gelatinous genius inventor (and shoe fetishist) Melissa Sprinkles. The latter provides both deceptively tiny "flyplanes" with magic paint-removing rays and street-cleaning droids that replicate themselves into an army using the trash they pick up and then turn into giant trees. Unfortunately, purple hyperbrat Princess Petulance is hot to trot from her own despoiled planet and so stands ready to sabotage the clean-up in any cheating way she can. Mihaley squeezes in sibling issues, the requisite bully (who ends up totally pwned by Giles' new techno toys) and aptly named alien life forms like a "wino tree" before thoroughly contrived last-minute treachery is scotched thanks to hordes of children inspired to finish the makeover by Giles' wheelchair-bound eco-blogger buddy Navida. Not a total nonstarter, though the nonsensical premise fully qualifies as a literary lead balloon. (Science fiction/fantasy. 11-13)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466804999
Publisher:
Feiwel & Friends
Publication date:
04/10/2012
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
File size:
414 KB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

You Can't Have My Planet, but Take My Brother, Please


By James Mihaley

Feiwel and Friends

Copyright © 2012 James Mihaley
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-0499-9


CHAPTER 1

HI, MY NAME IS GILES.

I'm miserable.

CHAPTER 2

I'M MISERABLE BECAUSE I just made a complete fool out of myself in front of a cute girl. My sister and I were crouching behind a car in the parking lot at Dale's Diner, playing a make-believe alien game. We were firing lasers at some cyborgs when along comes this cute girl in white shorts whose legs shot up and up like freckled skyscrapers. Her feet lived on the ground floor of those freckled skyscrapers. They were happy living there. I couldn't see how anything wouldn't be happy living there.

I smiled at her. She gave me a "Isn't It Sweet How This Little Boy who Still Wears Diapers Has a Crush on Me" kind of look.

Could you blame her? There I was, holding an imaginary laser gun, making a ridiculous zoot-zoot sound. In her eyes I must've looked five, not thirteen like I really was. God, did I feel stupid. I didn't even want to play this alien kiddy game in the first place. It was Nikki's idea. I was only trying to be nice to my little sister, to never turn my back on her like my big brother, Bobby, did to me. As usual, I tried to do the right thing and look where it got me.

Nothing new. Just another lousy day in the life of me, Giles.

Bobby glided into the parking lot on his bike and hopped off. "Come on," he said.

Nikki and I followed him into the diner. When Mom and Dad were away on business, Bobby was second in command behind Grandma.

When Bobby wasn't looking, I grabbed a roll off the table for the raccoons and stashed it in my pocket.

"What do you guys want to drink?" asked the waiter.

"I'll have a nonalcoholic apple martini," said Bobby.

"A what?" asked the waiter.

"A large apple juice," Bobby said.

"A nonalcoholic apple martini," said the waiter. "I like that. I'm going to see if we can put it on the menu."

"I'll have a nonalcoholic apple martini too," said the girl with freckled skyscrapers, who was sitting at the counter, peering over her shoulder at Bobby, gazing into his blue eyes, admiring his long blond hair.

Bobby ignored her. If a girl with freckled skyscrapers ever smiled at me, I would've smiled back. Bobby was always so busy doing practice SAT tests on his iPad he didn't even have time for dating. How stupid is that?

He was such a goodie-goodie. If the goodie-goodies had a kingdom, my brother would be king. He'd be known throughout the land as King Goodie-Goodie.

Gnawing on an onion ring, I couldn't help but notice my lame reflection in the mirror. I was scrawny and pale — a geek without a brain — someone who got decent grades but was certainly no straight A student. Was there a bigger loser on this planet than a geek without a brain?

Dale, the owner of the joint, came over and started talking to us. "When a paper towel falls asleep it's called a nap-kin. Get it?"

Nikki and I cracked up. Bobby didn't. Goodie-goodies have no sense of humor.

"So I hear you're number one in your class, Bobby," Dale said.

The king nodded.

"Where do you want to go to college?" Dale asked.

"Harvard," Bobby said.

"With those grades you'll be a shoo-in," Dale said, turning to Nikki, pinching her cheek. "And I hear you're quite the violin player."

"I'm not bad," said Nikki.

"Not bad? That's not what your grandma said. She said you're a child prodigy. You'll be going to Juilliard some day."

Nikki blushed.

Dale didn't ask me about all the great stuff I did because there wasn't any. I'm extremely lacking in the great stuff department.

The waiter marched out of the kitchen lugging a big black tray. He handed me my sandwich. I stared at it, belly growling. It was a really big sandwich. I mean a really big sandwich, piled high with roast beef, smoked turkey, salami, Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato, bean sprouts, mayo, mustard, pickles, hot sauce. Picking it up with both hands, I closed my eyes and opened my mouth wider and wider, stretching my face muscles more than face muscles can possibly stretch. When I took that first big bite, I had to admit, it was hard to taste the meat in the middle. It got drowned out by all the other stuff they loaded on.

Suddenly it occurred to me that my whole life was right there in that sandwich. Just like the meat in the middle, it was hard for me to get noticed in my family. I was the middle child, wedged between a big brother and a younger sister. In the sandwich of my family, I was the flavor that couldn't be tasted.

It ticked me off. I couldn't wait to get out of that darn diner. As soon as lunch was over I told Bobby I had stuff to do and jumped up from the table.

"Make sure you're back by four," Bobby said. "We're leaving today."

"I know, Bobby. I'm not an idiot."

We lived in New York City. My family had a summer place here in upstate New York, farm country. We'd been here for ten days. Now it was time to head back to the Big Apple.

"If we miss the train because of you, Grandma will go berserk," Bobby said.

"I'll be there," I said. "Now quit bugging me."

I shot out the door.

Whenever I got mad I ran into the forest. It was a great place to hang out when I wanted to be alone. The stillness, the shafts of golden light, the wind sifting through the top branches all teamed up to help calm me down. The beauty of nature sucked the octane out of my fist.

I wandered down a dirt path, the wind on my face and neck and hands. Have you ever been deep inside a gentle breeze? You should try it some time.

Standing still, I closed my eyes and inhaled the fresh scent of cedar and pine. A blue jay rang out in the distance. Another blue jay answered. An ovenbird chirped overhead, then a grouse and a warbler.

My English teacher said I have a gift for writing nature descriptions but she still gave me a B because my grammar sucks. I like writing poetry better because you don't have to worry so much about grammar.

I recited a poem in class once. Big mistake. If you want to get called a sissy just start writing poetry. Wait until the jocks find out. You'll never hear the end of it. Even girls will laugh at you. Take it from me, Giles. Being a poet will never land you a girl with freckled skyscrapers.

All the poetry I write is for me and me only. I whipped out my notebook in the middle of the woods and wrote a short poem called "Summer Vacation."

SUMMER VACATION
We're as tight as can be,
loneliness and me.


I continued on my way through the dark forest. A gust of wind parted the trees. The sun burst through. The gloom began to glow.

I shot up a tree. Despite being a crummy athlete, I had a knack for climbing trees. If tree climbing was an Olympic sport, I'd have a few gold medals by now. I'd have an agent. A bunch of endorsement deals.

Resting on a thick branch way up high, I imagined doing a commercial on TV. "Hi, it's me, Giles. After I've been climbing trees all day, I come home and take a shower with Dial Soap."

I'd be the Tom Brady of tree climbing. All the girls would be after me then. That was my only hope. If tree climbing doesn't become a professional sport then I'll never have a girlfriend.

I climbed down and continued on my way. Pulling the roll out of my pocket, I tore it up into pieces and flung them outside a hole that contained a family of raccoons. Grandma wasn't thrilled that I fed raccoons but I didn't see anything wrong with it. I wasn't stupid enough to try to pet them. I kept on walking, knowing they wouldn't come out until I was long gone.

Marching past a giant oak, I glanced up at the remnants of a tree fort Bobby and I built two years ago. I stared at it like you'd stare at a pyramid from a lost civilization, back when life was good, back when Bobby and I hung out together all the time. Before he decided that he was too old to play with me anymore.

We carefully selected this tree because the canopy provided perfect camouflage and was undetectable by alien warlords ransacking Earth. After six hours of nailing boards into branches, we christened our fort with a bottle of Gatorade. Then we drilled spy holes all around the floor and walls in order to engage in alien surveillance and bird-watching.

We were so thrilled with our fort we formed our own architecture firm, specializing in tree houses. We had business cards printed up and passed them out to kids at Dale's Diner.

I picked up a rock and threw it at the tree house. The architecture firm went out of business when Bobby hit ninth grade and his grades started counting for college. I couldn't get Bobby's betrayal out of my mind.

Sweat dripped down my forehead. It was the middle of a heat wave. It was the middle of July. The middle is a universe unto its own. It was my universe. And it was a pretty lousy one. I was tired of it, tired of being stuck in the middle of my family. I couldn't wait to show everyone that I wasn't a big nobody, that I added a unique spicy flavor to the double-decker sandwich of this world.

Standing in the middle of the forest, I prayed for something really cool to happen. What I longed for was a quest, an adventure, something grand and daring that would show the world just how brave and important I was. Something that would prove once and for all that I was just as good as Bobby.

I prayed so hard, rocking back and forth from side to side, gritting my teeth, my cheeks all puffed out, a vein in my forehead throbbing ... I guess the universe decided to answer my prayer before my brain exploded.

Suddenly the wind picked up, lashing the trees. The hot gusts got stronger and stronger until the whole forest shook violently. I had to dodge the falling branches. It was a tornado. Unlike any tornado I'd ever seen on TV, this one gave off a blinding light. Even stranger, this tornado wasn't funnel shaped. This tornado was round. This tornado wasn't a tornado, it was a — oh my God, it couldn't be — this tornado was a spaceship.

CHAPTER 3

ON THE SIDE of the spaceship, in big black letters, it read, INTERGALACTIC REALTY. A picture of an alien was painted on the hatch. His skin was zebra striped but the stripes were red and orange, not black and white. Below the picture it read: JERRY, IF I CAN'T SELL IT, NO ONE CAN!

I shot up the tree into the fort. Whipping out my cell phone, I called 911 but it didn't work. They must've jammed the signal. Aliens can do that.

I peeked through a spy hole. Down below, the hatch opened and the Jerry guy emerged. His long blond dreadlocks jutted out of his head like cornstalks, pointing straight up instead of straight down. He was decked out in a silver suit that had more glitter on it than a sixteen-year-old girl at a makeup party. He kept admiring his portrait on the side of the spaceship. This alien was really into himself.

He planted a sign in the ground: OPEN HOUSE FROM 1 TO 4!

I glanced at my watch, 12:59. At precisely one p.m. another spaceship landed.

Two elderly aliens came shuffling out, a male and a female, both wearing gold crowns and long velvet robes. There was something classy about them, even though they both had dark purple skin and beady eyes that glowed.

The queen, or at least I assumed she was a queen, was reading something Jerry gave her. Silently, stealthily, I grabbed a plastic telescope out of the battle-supply kit Bobby and I kept stored in the tree fort, pressed it up against my right eye and zeroed in on the thing she was reading.

It was a brochure like the kind your parents might have if they were planning to buy a house. A brochure like that would list the number of bathrooms the house contained. It would show fancy pictures of the living room, the dining room, the pool in the backyard. It would list the square footage of the house and the number of fireplaces.

But the brochure the queen held in her purple hand was for someone who was interested in purchasing an entire planet. It listed the circumference of Earth, 24,901 miles, the diameter, 7926 miles. It described the seven continents and the four major oceans. It was filled with dazzling photographs of the Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon, the Great Wall of China.

Earth was for sale? Heck no! Not if I had anything to say about it.

The queen flipped the page. She stared at a photo of Egypt. She turned to the king. "Oh, Leonard, aren't they cute?"

"What are they?" said the king.

"They're called pyramids, King Zoodle," Jerry replied. "They're used to store the dead. Of course, you can use them to store anything."

"Garden equipment?" asked King Zoodle.

"Absolutely," Jerry said. "Although you won't be doing much gardening in the desert." He bobbed his head in harmony with the swaying trees and smiled at the queen. "But you'll be doing plenty right here, Queen Mooby. This is some of the most fertile soil in the entire universe. Because of all the deforestation on your planet, I thought you'd want to see it before the pyramids."

"Absolutely," said Queen Mooby.

They came to steal our crops. Suddenly I was convinced of that. They were conspiring to sneak off with all the corn and soybeans. They were here to steal everything edible. I tried to warn my brother with a text message but it didn't go through. The signal was still jammed.

Jerry led the royal couple down the dirt path, heading directly toward the tree fort. Why couldn't they go the other way?

"Are you sure there aren't any humans around?" the queen said nervously.

"Absolutely," insisted Jerry. "They're all at the mall."

They were directly below me.

"As you can see," Jerry said, "I don't waste my time on second-rate properties. I only get the prime listings. I'm the top dog. The king of Intergalactic Realty." He leaned forward, flirting with the queen. "I'm royalty, baby."

Queen Mooby blushed.

I was trying to figure out how to text NASA when I saw the snake. It crawled out from inside a Burger King bag on the other end of the tree fort and stared at me. Just my luck. I was trapped in a tree house with a big black snake. I waved my fist in the air but the snake didn't back away. Aliens on the outside, a snake on the inside. Let me tell you. I just love summer vacation.

The snake coiled and hissed.

I felt like yelling, "Hey, I built this tree fort, you lousy serpent. You get out."

But I got the feeling the snake was in no mood to listen. I was so crazed, so delirious, I could almost hear the snake say, "Listen, bozo, if you don't get out of my master bedroom in five seconds, I'm going to bite you a couple of hundred times. You're better off dealing with the aliens than with me."

The snake had a point there.

Before I could decide what to do the big black snake turned into a little bitty worm. That did not make a whole lot of sense to me. I slowly turned around. That Jerry creature lurked by the entrance to the fort, aiming what must've been a shrinking gadget at the snake. I mean the worm.

"Thanks," I said in a total daze. "You saved my life."

"Don't mention it," Jerry said. "What name do you go by, Earthling?"

"Giles."

"Come on down, Giles. I'll introduce you to everyone."

I climbed down and followed him cautiously over by the royal couple.

"Oh no!" shrieked the queen. "It's a ... human."

The king stared at me in stunned disbelief. "Why aren't you at the mall?"

"I hate malls."

"Just our luck," muttered the king.

"Relax," Jerry said. "Giles is our friend."

Friend? Not if they were trying to take over the planet or steal our crops, I wasn't. I love corn on the cob. I wasn't about to let aliens take it. But they could definitely have the Brussels sprouts. I'd help them load up the mothership.

"Is it true?" asked King Zoodle. "Do you come in peace?"

"I sure do," I said, not entirely believing that.

"Did you hear that? He comes in peace." The queen breathed a sigh of relief. She studied me curiously. "So you humans aren't bloodthirsty after all?"

"No way," I said.

"It just goes to show that you can't trust stereotypes," she said.

We hung out for half an hour. I couldn't believe how nice they were. If you ever get a chance to hang out with aliens I highly recommend it. We've been brainwashed to believe they're evil. Well, let me fill you in on something. The same guy who said aliens are evil probably thinks chocolate chip cookie dough sucks. That gives you an idea of his IQ.

"Do you guys need a place to live?" I asked.

The king sighed wearily. "That's all I'm looking for. A place where my wife and I can live in peace and not be bothered."

That didn't sound evil and treacherous. It sounded kind of sad.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from You Can't Have My Planet, but Take My Brother, Please by James Mihaley. Copyright © 2012 James Mihaley. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
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

James Mihaley has milked cows. He drove 1,000 miles in one day for a rock concert. Once, he almost got eaten by a shark. He lives in L.A., where he avoids the paparazzi and feeds the pigeons. You Can't Have My Planet is his first novel.


James Mihaley has milked cows. He drove 1,000 miles in one day for a rock concert. Once, he almost got eaten by a shark. He lives in L.A., where he avoids the paparazzi and feeds the pigeons. You Can't Have My Planet is his first novel.

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You Can't Have My Planet, But Take My Brother, Please 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Kiran39 More than 1 year ago
I got a copy of this book for my daughter when it came out, and after glancing through it, decided to read it myself. The plot concerns a young preteen boy that is a bit of an outcast, possibly a 'geek' who has issues with his prodigal sister and bibliophile of an older brother. He has self esteem issues as well. One day, he witnesses an alien realtor trying to sell earth to the highest bidder, as humans have ( as we all know) been bad tenants, with our pollution and disconnection from nature. It is up to him and his motley crew of friends-and alien partners, one of who is a talking parking meter- to prove to galactic courts that humans can make a change. I found it very funny, even for my age, and think that kids ages 9 to 14 will enjoy it even more. A friend of mine bought it for her son and they ended up getting a second copy, they loved it so much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Mihaley came to the los angeles public library and showed us his book. He had a girl read the first chapter... 2 sentences! I can't wait to read it!
BthyKa More than 1 year ago
I got the hard copy version after the author came to our school and read some of it, and bought the book afterwards. All of us really liked it.
BillyWB More than 1 year ago
What a read! We read this one in only a few hours. My wife and I loved it, and so did our sons. It's great for middle grade readers who are not ready for all the dark stuff that creeps into YA and that somehow still manages to attract very young kids. It's good for older children and adults as well, as it has a good plot and progresses at a steady rate. Giles is a quirky boy in need of a life changing experience. One moment he is playing in his tree house...the next he is the valet for aliens looking to buy earth. Because he was at the wrong place at the wrong time, it is up to him to prove that humans are capable of coming together to clean up earth. Our favorite character had to be Dr. Sprinkles,a blob like mad scientist slash shoe fetishist. She creates gadgets to help Giles on his mission. I also loved the shrunken head key chain that has a few short appearances. I would have liked Stanley to had more of a role, and hope he will be in the sequel!