Aaron Reynolds, the author of the brilliantly spooky and funny Creepy Carrots and Creepy Pair of Underwear has a new middle grade novel coming in spring of 2020, and of course its hilarious and perfect title is The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter. The B&N Kids’ Blog is delighted to reveal the cover, along with an excerpt of the first two chapters, below.
More than anything in the world, young Rex Dexter wants a dog. Preferably a chocolate Lab, but really, he’ll take any breed. What do his parents get him for his birthday? You guessed it: A chicken. And all too soon, the chicken has flown life’s great coop (via steamroller), and then Rex starts having visions. Ghostly dead pets are haunting him, urging him to help solve the mysteries of their deaths.
Excerpt from The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter:
My story starts with a dream. We all have dreams, right? A fire in the belly that drives our spirit toward accomplishment.
George Washington dreamed of being the first president with wooden teeth.
Albert Einstein dreamed of having fluffier hair than any other scientist in history.
Pepto Bismol dreamed of a world without diarrhea.
The first thing you should know about me is this: More than anything else in the world, I’ve always dreamed of owning a dog. A real-live pet of my own.
I know what you’re thinking. Why a dog? How about a cat? Or a gerbil?
In my mind, a dog is the only true pet.
A cat? No.
A ferret? Cool, but no.
A gerbil? Please.
Of all the household animals, a dog is the pinnacle. No other animal can compare. And the best of the best? My greatest wish? My most fervent dream? A chocolate Labrador. That’s a proper pet.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m open to other possibilities. A yellow Labrador would be fine.
A black Labrador, also fine.
Even a golden retriever would be okay. Not perfect, but certainly acceptable. As you can see, I am not picky.
I was practically born to have a dog. After all, my name is Rex. Rex Dexter. It’s a dog’s name, for crying out loud. It’s one step away from being named Fido. Or Bandit. Or Spot.
With a name like mine, I should obviously own a dog. But I don’t.
See this empty backyard? It is devoid of canine.
See the foot of my bed? It suffers from absence of pooch.
See this kitchen floor? It is without dog dish.
It is a sad state of affairs.
My cruel situation is made even worse by a cold and ruthless reality: Everyone I know has a pet.
For example, there’s Sami Mulpepper. Sami Mulpepper is the smartest kid in my class. She has wavy hair and smells of soup. She also has an English setter named Sarsaparilla. You can tell she’s smart by her choice of pet.
This does not mean I like her. I do not.
Edwin Willoughby sits three rows behind me at school. He has a pit bull named Alfred. I respect his life choices.
Even Holly Creskin has two cats named Tiger and Sardine. Cats don’t really count, but it still supports my point. Two cats. And I don’t think she even likes animals. She wrinkles her nose every time I bring them up.
My own best friend has four dogs, if you can believe it. Four. It is greedy in the extreme. Here is a list of the pets living at Darvish’s house:
A pug named Rascal
A dalmatian named Tikka
A schnauzer named Hong Kong Fooey
A boxer named Sir Barks-a-lot
A fat raccoon (nameless) that resides in Darvish’s yard because his mom leaves dog food on the back porch.
Darvish insists that the raccoon does not count. But even without the raccoon, I think we can all agree: Darvish is a pet hoarder.
One time Darvish let me pretend that Rascal was mine and take him for a walk. He is a thoughtful friend, despite his pet-hogging tendencies.
Five minutes into our walk, Rascal threw up on my shoe.
So I could tell his heart wasn’t in it.
The closest I’ve come to the dog of my dreams was Bub. Bub was not the dog of my dreams. That is mostly because he was a fish.
A fish does not count as a real-live pet. But I suppose it is better than nothing.
I had Bub for exactly twenty-seven minutes. His name was supposed to be Bubbles. However, he suffered a very unfortunate mishap just prior to receiving his full legal name.
It’s not technically my fault.
I was following directions given to me by a licensed professional. The guy at PetPlanet said to put him in water as soon as possible.
Where was I supposed to put him in water?
Do we own a swimming pool? Of course not; my parents are cheap.
Is there a large aquarium in my house that is currently vacant? Don’t be ludicrous.
Do I reside on beachfront property? I wish.
There is only one place in our house that is filled with water. So that’s where I put him. It was just supposed to be for a second or two.
I was dutifully filling Bub’s little fishbowl at the sink. I was saying, “I think I’ll call him Bub—” That’s when I heard the flush.
Can I help it that my dad doesn’t look for fish before he takes care of his business?
After that, my parents decided I was “a little under-responsible” to have a pet. Which is ironic because I might be one of the most mature, responsible, rational people I’ve ever met.
“What if you had flushed a dog?” my dad said. Which is silly.
First, I did not flush Bub. Any jury of my peers would see this.
Second, it is practically impossible to flush a dog down the toilet.
Unless it’s a corgi.
Or a Chihuahua.
I’m pretty sure those are known in the business as the “flushable” breeds.
The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter will be on B&N bookshelves in April 2020.