Book 7 of the much-loved My Life series that has the irrepressible Derek Fallon starting his own Youtube web series!
Derek Fallon finally found something to get excited about at schoolan extracurricular class on making videos! Together with his friends Carly, Matt, and Umberto, Derek can’t wait to create his own Youtube web series. But he soon realizes Youtube stardom is a lot of work. On top of that, it’s time for his foster monkey Frank to go to monkey college so Derek must scramble to find a reason for Frank to stay with his familyif only a little while longer. Can Derek solve both problems at once? What if Frank became a part of Derek's Youtube videos?
Here's another funny and thoughtful novel in the series that centers around most every tween today’s pastimeYoutube!
A Christy Ottaviano Book
About the Author
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BEST CLASS EVER
History. Language arts. Geography. Science.
To succeed in any of them, you have to be a pretty good reader — which unfortunately I'm not.
But our school is offering a new after-school elective this winter that doesn't require ANY reading. Plus, the subject is one of my absolute favorite things in the world.
Because every kid in school wanted to sign up, Mr. Demetri decided to have a lottery. I've never won a raffle in my life, so I was shocked when Ms. McCoddle posted the lucky few students who made the cut and Matt and I were on the list!
Umberto and Carly were on the waiting list — as if anyone's going to drop out of such an awesome elective. And when we find out the teacher is Tom Ennis — a local stand-up comic with his own popular YouTube channel — Matt and I can't contain our excitement. We race down the hallway screaming until Mr. Demetri tells us to knock it off.
"Tom Ennis is HILARIOUS," I tell Matt on our way to the cafeteria. "We're going to have a blast."
Our new teacher's YouTube channel is called LOL Illusions. He's gotten hundreds of thousands of subscribers by being a digital magician like Zach King. Every week he uploads a new video featuring an unbelievable trick. He's not a magician in the traditional sense; instead he's a wizard in post-production who edits his clips with special effects to make them look like magic.
In the 240 videos he's uploaded, he's turned a photo of a kitten into a real kitten in the palm of his hand, he's leaped into a speeding convertible without ever opening the door, he's jumped on his bed so hard he falls through and lands underneath it, and he's thrown a guitar into the dryer and shrank it into an ukulele.
Tom's buddy Chris is usually in the background too, texting on his phone and ignoring Tom as he pulls off these outrageous stunts. The joke is Chris never looks up quick enough to take a picture of the stunt and misses the magic trick every time. It's one of my favorite channels, one that I subscribed to immediately after watching Tom's first clip, where he "makes" dinner by reaching into a cookbook and pulling out a whole turkey.
"Stop rubbing it in," Umberto finally tells us. "I'd give anything to be in that class."
If I added up all the hours Matt, Carly, Umberto, and I have spent watching YouTube, the number would be bigger than all the hours we've logged at school since kindergarten, combined. (The total would be evenlarger if they'd let us use our phones during class.) But looking at YouTube from the point of view of a CREATOR versus a VIEWER isgigantic. The class starts tomorrow and I already know I'll be up all night, too excited to sleep.
When I get home, Mom's in the kitchen putting a casserole in the oven. She must not have a full schedule at her veterinary practice today, because she's in her running clothes instead of her usual scrubs, which means she just got off her treadmill. I try to peek into the oven to see how many vegetables she's hiding in the casserole, but she closes the oven door and asks about my first day back at school after the holiday break.
I blurt out the news about the YouTube class with so much volume that Dad hurries downstairs.
"What's the ruckus?" he asks. "Are they giving out free puppies at school?"
"Even better." I repeat the story about my new class.
I'm not sure if it's to help celebrate or to show how cool he is, but Dad pulls his phone from his pocket and opens up his YouTube app. "This might be the funniest thing I've ever seen." He holds up the screen and plays a video of David coming back from the dentist. My father's laughing so hard I don't have the heart to tell him how prehistoric that clip is.
It's always hard to concentrate on my homework, but tonight it's especially difficult. Bodi curls underneath the kitchen table as I work, content to just sleep by my feet. Our capuchin, Frank, on the other hand, is jumping around so much, I begin to wonder if he can reach the coffeepot from his crate.
We've been a foster family for Frank for almost two years, letting him acclimate to humans before going on to monkey college in Boston where he'll learn to help people with disabilities. Every time I think of Frank having to leave, I work myself into such a frenzy that one of my parents has to calm me down. Tonight I'm ALREADY in a frenzy, just thinking about how lucky I am to take part in tomorrow's elective.
YouTube, here I come!
OUR VERY OWN COMEDY NERD
When Mr. Owens monitored our comedy club elective last year, we looked at him as a necessary evil. With Tom Ennis, however, it's like having a rock star for a teacher. When the final bell rings, every other kid races out of school. But all twelve of us lucky students hurry into another classroom, eager to get started. Tom strolls in ten minutes after school ends, wearing a GoPro camera with an elastic band around his head.
"Hey, kids, I hope you don't mind if I film our sessions."
Not only is he going to teach us — he's going to make us stars! We all sit a little taller in our seats, waiting for our close-ups.
"First of all," he begins, "I'm Tom. But Mr. Demitri INSISTS you guys call me Mr. Ennis, so we'll have to go with that."
He's wearing the skinniest jeans I've ever seen with a beat-up pair of Chuck Taylors. His hair is to his shoulders, with half of it pulled back in a small bun, held up by the band of his camera. His T-shirt is faded and says HAIRY MASTODON, which I'm guessing is a band. Given how largerthan-life he looks in his videos, I can't believe how normal he seems in person.
Mr. Ennis hands out sheets of paper for us todistribute. "These are release forms. If you don't sign them, you can't take the class."
I'm not sure what a release form is but I've watched enough TV to know you're not supposed to sign anything without reading it first. It hardly matters because there's no way I'm NOT taking this class. But leave it to Maria to raise her hand and ask Mr. Ennis to explain.
"Signing a release means you give me permission to use video footage of you however I please," he answers.
Of COURSE I'm taking this class, but now I'm as confused as Maria is.
"So if I sign this," I ask, "you can take the footage you're shooting now, add a few filters, and turn me into an orangutan with bananas sticking out of my ears?"
"If I want to, yes." Mr. Ennis takes out his cell and rapidly starts typing. "I'm writing that down. I love orangutans."
Matt turns and gives me a thumbs-up like I'm the class genius but I'm just secretly hoping our new teacher doesn't turn me into a cyber-primate for his own amusement.
Mr. Ennis doesn't write on the whiteboard like a normal teacher. He's sittingcross-legged on the desk to face us instead. "The first thing you need to know about being a youtuber is that it's a full-time job, even when it's a part-time job. There are a million clips uploaded every single minute of every single day, and if you want your show to stand out, you need to be thinking about your show 24/7." He looks at us and grins. "So ... you think you're up for it?"
The answer from the class is a resounding YES.
"Good." He pulls a stick of gum out of his pocket. I get excited to see what kind of trick he might do with it, but he just shoves it into his mouth. It's still cool, and in all my years of school, I can't recall ever seeing a teacher chew gum in class.
As Mr. Ennis continues to talk about "creative content," I catch myself focusing more on his headcam than his words. If Ms. McCoddle or any of my other teachers wore one of these, I'd be more distracted than usual and would NEVER retain anything they said.
We spend the rest of the class watching online videos, which is AMAZING. Mr. Ennis said he had to run clips by Mr. Demetri first to make sure they were appropriate to show in school so of course we beg him to show us the ones that Demetri didn't allow. I can tell that Mr. Ennis WANTS to show us but also wants to keep his job. Instead, he shows us a video of a girl instructing viewers how to blow-dry their hair like a movie star while her little brother pretends to be a zombie attacking her from behind.
"That's the mystery," he says. "Does the girl not know her brother's making fun of her or is she in on the joke and asked him to do it? There's no way for us to know — and that's half the fun."
I slowly turn to Matt, who's grinning as mischievously as I am. Neither of us needs to speak because we're both thinking the same thing:
We're starting our own YouTube channel!
Even before Mr. Ennis's class, I was incubating ideas for a YouTube show.
"Don't get me wrong," Matt says as we grab a table in the cafeteria a few days later. "It sounds great, but having our own show is probably a ton of work."
"A lot of fun too. I'm with Derek on this." Umberto reaches across the table and gives me a fist bump.
As usual, Carly is the most practical of the four of us. "I'm sure your teacher could point us to a good online tutorial. I think the four of us could create a GREAT YouTube channel." She offers us some macaroons from her bag. (Carly thankfully always brings enough dessert for all of us.)
I hate to bring up a sore spot while we're eating her food, but I ask Carly how the four of us are going to create a YouTube channel when Matt and I are the only ones taking the class.
She seems surprised; Umberto does too. "I just assumed since you guys were lucky enough to get in that you'd share the information with us."
Umberto then nods, looking as expectant as Carly is. I turn to Matt, who plays with the cookie crumbs instead of helping me out.
"Of course we will," I finally answer. I reach for another cookie and wait for the awkward moment to pass. Matt finally jumps in.
"We could do a Let's Play channel," he says. "If that's not too complicated."
"You forget I've been taking computer classes for years," Umberto says. "I know how to do all KINDS of things, including an LP channel."
And just like that, lunchtime turns into a production meeting. Matt still thinks we should do a video game walk-through show, Umberto wants us to do challenges like eating handfuls of ground cinnamonuntil we choke (uh, no thanks), and Carly thinks we should do epic sports fails. By the time lunch is over, we've come up with twentytwopossibilities for our new channel.
"There's one stipulation," Umberto tells Matt and me on our way to class. "You guys have GOT to stop talking about Mr. Ennis."
Umberto's right — Matt and I haven't shut up about our new teacher. We can't help it — we're on fire with new ideas.
Back in class, I'm a little freaked out by Ms. McCoddle's sunburn. I guess she went snowboarding at Big Bear this weekend so her face is red but the area around her eyes is white from wearing goggles. She keeps taking lotion from her purse to apply to her skin. Just looking at her makes me itchy.
When Matt and I had Ms. McCoddle in kindergarten, we'd spend the first hour talking about what we did the night before. Now we barely sit down before Ms. McCoddle tells us to open our history books. "Today we begin the Industrial Revolution," Ms. McCoddle says.
It's cool hearing about one interesting inventionafter another, but my mind keeps drifting back to YouTube. What kind of screen name should we have? Will we get a lot of subscribers? What if we don't get any views?
Talking at lunch earlier, Carly didn't have to say it, but I knew what she was thinking. Is this just another one of Derek's crazy ideas or will he have the follow-through to make it happen this time? I can't say I blame her; it's something I wonder about too.
But as I half-listen to Ms. McCoddle discuss the assembly line, I get an idea. What if we ASSEMBLE something on our YouTube show? Not like a desk from IKEA but things that don't usually go together — like ham and marshmallows or chicken soup and Jell-O? Maybe Umberto's right and we should do a challenge channel.
Ms. McCoddle smiles when she finishes talking about Eli Whitney and interchangeable parts. "Derek, you're grinning from ear to ear — is all this talk of innovation making you happy?" I mumble something about Eli Whitney being one of my favorite inventors of all time, but even as the words leave my mouth, all I can think about is making videos with my friends.
Matt and Umberto don't need any convincing to come over after school to discuss our show. Carly's got an orthodontist appointment so she can't join us. That's actually good; we'll be able to get all our bad ideas out of the way while she's not here. Because Carly's worried that she'll have to get braces, I reassure her that everything will be fine, although I have absolutely no idea if she'll need them or not. Matt tortures her by finding a website of people with terrible, gigantic braces, which almost makes Carly cry. In the end Matt feels bad, but not bad enough to refrainfrom sending a few of the pictures to her on Snapchat.
"Here's what I think we do," Matt says. He points to all the bottles and jars we've taken out of my refrigerator, now spread along the kitchen counter. "Let's find three of the most disgusting ingredients, mix them in the blender, then make ourselves drink it on camera."
"I still say eating handfuls of cinnamon and black pepper would be awesome." Umberto uses the deep voice he uses whenever he pretends he's an announcer at a monster-truck rally. "Master sneeze blast!"
I rub my hands together. "Time to mix up something vile."
I take the cover off the blender and start dumping stuff in. Apple juice, maple syrup, canned clam chowder, a bagel, lettuce, and some blue cheese.
The three of us stare into the blender, looking down at the kaleidoscope of colors before turning it on. I take glasses out of the cabinet and divide the brownish mixture three ways.
"Whose idea was this, anyway?" Umberto asks.
"We should do this near the bathroom in case we have to puke," Matt adds.
We hold up our glasses in a mock toast then each take a sip before we gag. Only Matt finishes the drink and is declared the winner.
"I'm not sure if it's possible, but I think the bagel actually made it worse," I say.
"Not to mention the blue cheese," Matt adds with a belch.
Um ... Derek?" Umberto gestures to my phone set up on my dad'stripod. "Did you hit 'record'?" We all look at the phone just sitting there.
"We're the worst youtubers ever," Matt says.
"So ... take two?" I shrug as if this was all part of the original plan.
We obviously have a lot of work to do.
Matt, Umberto, and I spend more time disagreeing than agreeing on what to shoot, so I'm not surprised that we don't have anything even close to usable when I go through the footage. It might be easier to do a few practice runs on my own. Mom's Derek-might-be-getting-into-trouble antennae must alert her, however, because ten minutes after my friends leave she enters the kitchen.
She's wearing her scrubs with the Weimaraner pattern and looking at the counter full of jars and bottles.
"I hate to ask, but feel I should," she begins.
I tell her my friends and I were trying to come up with an idea for a YouTube show. Mom can't take her eyes off the mess.
"I'm surprised Carly was in on this," Mom says.
I could tell her Carly wasn't here, but since my mother thinks Carly walks on water, I decide to leave out this piece of information.
Mom points to the phone perched on the tripod. "Were you recording this forposterity?"
I'm not really sure what that means, but it doesn't matter because we didn't record much of anything. I tell her what we were attempting to do but with no success.
She opens the fridge and tilts her head. After a moment, I realize she's waiting for me to start putting the food away.
"I think a challenge channel is a great idea," she says. "The techs in my office watch them on their phones all the time."
The last thing I want to do is create a show that PEOPLE WHO WORK WITH MY MOTHER watch. But on the other hand, that WOULD get me additional views. ... I just let Mom babble as I continue inserting jars of condiments into the shelves on the refrigerator door.
"I bet a show about challenging yourself to be a better reader would really catch on," Mom continues.
I'm about to ask her if she's kidding but her slow smile tells me she is.
I've fought my parents on reading programs for years, finally coming up with one that works for me — drawing my vocabulary words in my sketchbooks to understand them better. I'm what's known as a visual learner, meaning I need to SEE things to learn them. I've done thousands of stick-figure drawings, which have definitely improved my reading skills. I know Mom well enough to realize she's not putting me down, just acknowledging all the hard work I've done since kindergarten.
Mom motions to the two jars in my hand. "Mustard or mayo? Paper or plastic? Truth or dare? Sometimes life just comes down to one thing or the other, right?"
Mom's semi-annoying observation gives me another idea. Instead of blending a ton of stuff together, what if my friends and I dare ourselves to complete challenges where BOTH options aredisgusting? Would you rather have a booger sandwich or a dandruff shake? Would you rather go to school wearing your dad's pants or your mom's high heels? (Not that my mom wears high heels — she stands for many hours at work, so she usually wears clogs.)
Excerpted from "My Life as a YouTuber"
Copyright © 2018 Janet Tashjian.
Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
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.
Table of Contents
Best Class Ever,
Our Very Own Comedy Nerd,
A Change for Carly,
A New Direction,
Sketching with Dad,
Bring in the Props,
So Much Stuff,
Who's the Dumbbell Now?,
Today Is What?,
An Annual Event,
Yet Another Idea,
Ready, Set, Go!,
Bait and Switch,
The Headless Horseman,
Race Against Time,
A High Price to Pay,
A Better Video,
You Want Me to What?,
The Comfort of Friends,
Other Books by Janet Tashjian,
About the Author and Illustrator,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great lessons funny daerek great book 4 us kids:)