"Part Narnia. Part Home Alone. It wouldn't have shocked me to learn the book had been written by some guy named Lemony Vonnegut." —James Patterson, New York Times bestselling author
“A terrific read, magic really, an adolescent book for adults, an adult book for adolescents, a funny, wise, enthralling romp from fist page to last . . . So much better than Harry Potter” —Peter Quinn, Author of Hour of the Cat
When Patrick Griffin passes out after a chemistry experiment gone bad, he wakes up in a strange parallel world, where everyone has huge eyes and tiny ears, and is addicted to smartphones called "binkies." Patrick thinks it's all a weird dream, but he's about to wake up to an adventure beyond his wildest imagination.
Meanwhile, a huge rabbit-like creature named Mr. BunBun is roaming through Patrick's hometown, leaving a trail of chaos behind it. Its mission? To save Earth from imminent doom.
See what happens when the fate of three worlds lies in the hands of one boy and one gigantic bunny in this first book of the hilarious and mind-bending new adventure series by Ned Rust, Patrick Griffin and the Three Worlds.
About the Author
Ned Rust is the author of the Patrick Griffin and the Three Worlds series as well as the co-author of books in the Daniel X series and Witch and Wizard: The Gift with James Patterson. He lives in Croton, New York, with his wife, son, and daughter.
Read an Excerpt
Patrick Griffin's Last Breakfast on Earth
By Ned Rust, Jake Parker
Roaring Brook PressCopyright © 2016 Ned Rust
All rights reserved.
The Better Part of Neglect
As far as Patrick Griffin could tell, the only good thing about being the middlemost of seven children was that he tended to get ignored. Getting ignored meant he could sometimes have time, toys, and thoughts to himself — things that were otherwise pretty hard to find in the bustling, helter-skelter Griffin home.
The rest of it, of course, was that being one of seven Griffin kids meant he had all the problems that came with receiving only one-seventh of his parents' attention and resources. And, in reality, he figured he got less than that.
But to his mind not a single piece of neglect had ever come close to that rainy Saturday morning in March — the morning of the day he disappeared — when he arrived downstairs to find there were no waffles.
There had been an eighteen-pack yesterday. He'd pulled it out of the freezer case at Kroger himself. Friday afternoons, while most of his siblings were at sports, Patrick would go shopping with Mom and the Twins, and they would pick out a treat for Saturday breakfast: coffee cakes, sticky buns, bagels, sometimes even a big box of some sugar-crusted cereal.
Yesterday, the four of them had decided on toaster-ready waffles.
If you counted Mom and Dad, there were nine people in the family. Divide eighteen waffles by nine people and you get two waffles per person — two waffles; not three, not four, not one, and definitely not zero waffles.
He padded to the top of the basement stairs, yelled her name another time, then went to the den. Annoying Neil would probably be in there holding a game controller — or Dad the universal remote — and would know where she was. But neither Neil nor Dad was there. Nobody was there. He observed the rain pattering on the casement window and decided there was no point checking the yard.
"Mom!!!" he yelled up the front-hall stairs. "Somebody ate my waffles!"
For the third time there was no reply. And something was strange. This was different from those rare moments when the Twins weren't awake, Neil wasn't getting yelled at, Carly wasn't throwing a fit, Mom wasn't on someone's case, Dad wasn't trying to find something, and Eva wasn't laughing at somebody. No, it was more than quiet right then at 96 Morningside Drive; it was silent.
He took the stairs, two at a time, to the second floor. His parents' bedroom, and the rooms of his younger siblings, Carly and the Twins, were all vacant. And neither was there anybody in the bedrooms or bathrooms on the third floor. Which left only one place to check: he drew a deep breath and climbed the steep, creaky fourth-floor stairs to the attic, and the lair of his oldest sister, Lucie.
"Lucie!?" he asked from the wooden landing. "Lucie — are you there?"
He knocked loudly four times before turning the handle. It was risky enough touching something of Lucie's she'd left on the kitchen counter; entering her room without permission ...
Every one of Patrick's siblings terrified him on some level — the Twins for their control over his parents, Carly for her eardrum-splitting temper, Neil for his inability to leave any other human (and especially Patrick) at peace, and his second-oldest sister, Eva, for her sarcastic and confidence-shattering putdowns — but nobody scared Patrick like his eldest sibling, seventeen-year-old Lucie. Lucie who lived in the attic. Lucie who wore a black leather jacket even when it was hot out. Lucie who painted weird paintings. Lucie who listened to heavy electronic music that made Patrick feel seasick. Lucie who gloomed in and out of the house as if she were a gothic priestess renting an apartment that — to everybody's discomfort — didn't have a private entrance.
Patrick stepped into the shag-carpeted, incense-smelling room and, just to be safe, called her name once more. But she clearly wasn't there. The easel in the middle of the room held a charcoal sketch of a squirrel with its head twisted around the wrong way. Above, in harsh, dripping letters, it read, "LOOK FORWARD TO THINGS, IT'S BETTER FOR YOUR POSTURE."
He shivered and went to the window. It happened to be the only place in the house with a good view of the driveway.
He stood a moment, resting his cheek against the pane, his breath fogging the glass and obscuring his view of the wet blacktop where his parents' cars would have been parked, had they been home.
* * *
Patrick pulled his face from the window and blinked hard, reassuring himself that this really wasn't such a bad situation. Was it not one of his most frequent, if not heartfelt, wishes that they all just leave him alone? And, if he was now here in the house all by himself, was that not exactly what was happening?
There in fact was right now nobody around to tell him what to do or, for that matter, what not to do. He could go pick what he wanted to watch on the TV and even turn the volume up too loud. He could go play one of Neil's treasured PlayStation 4 games. He could go search through Carly's room and find the Westing Game book she claimed not to have stolen. He could go take back his Legos Mom had given to the Twins. He could go to his parents' room and eat some of the candy that Dad kept hidden in his sock drawer. Or he could stay right here and look for evidence that Lucie smoked cigarettes like the kids at school said she did.
Patrick bolted from the room, a crooked grin on his face. He knew exactly what to do about the missing waffles.CHAPTER 2
Patrick long-stepped his way down the stairs — two at a time — which he wasn't supposed to do because it was dangerous (and noisy), and then, on the third floor, opted for the back stairwell and another prohibited method of household descent: the wooden banister to the mud room.
The banister was both steep and long and, unless you went down feetfirst on your belly, braking with your hands, you came off so fast you either had to hit the ground running or fall flat on your face.
Patrick squatted, peering down the stairwell for any obstacles. The mud room, as his mother often complained, was the family's dumping ground, most always strewn with pieces of clothing, shoes, slippers (his mother forbade the wearing of "outdoor shoes" inside the house), school books, umbrellas, backpacks, and other random items that had come across the threshold without enough momentum to make it to their proper places.
From here at the top of the stairs he could already see a reusable grocery bag and one of Carly's soccer cleats. He'd have no trouble with those. The real challenge, as always, would come with objects that lay out of sight, past where the stairwell ceiling cut off the view.
He pulled off his socks, stood, shook his arms like a sprinter, drew a deep breath, and mounted the railing sidesaddle-style.
"Three, two, one," he said, and let go.
There was something white — a shin guard, probably — off to the left, and a gray sock near it, and then a broom up against the radiator on the right — no problem there — and then something dark a little farther along — something dark and furry: Carly's greasy-haired old alley cat was napping in the middle of the floor.
"SHOOOO!" yelled Patrick as he shot off the railing, landing his first step almost two yards past the bottom stair. The unpleasant animal — Neil had nicknamed it Balrog after a cave monster in The Lord of the Rings — now startled awake and sprang to its arthritic feet. But it was too late; Patrick was either going to have to purposely crash into the wall to avoid hitting it or —
"Three!" he yelled in triumph as he stuck the landing on just his third step. The cat, meantime, managed an impressive burst of speed, reaching the end of the hall and scrambling three-quarters of the way up the screen door. It hissed like a punctured tire, glaring hatefully at Patrick — baleful yellow eyes narrowed to demonic slits, greasy hackles raised from its dandruffy pelt, and veiny ears flattened against its wedge-shaped head.
"You want out?" he asked.
A neighborhood Scottish terrier had been taken by a coyote that summer, and this past fall a wandering bear had caused a park closure a dozen miles away in Peekskill. Carly may not have lavished much care or attention on her pet — most of the time it was Mr. Griffin who filled its food bowl, and as far as Patrick could tell, nobody but Dad had ever emptied its litter box, either — but Carly apparently enjoyed the feeling she was keeping the creature from certain doom, and so the cat was never allowed outside.
"Seriously," said Patrick, nodding at the green brightness beyond the door. "You want to go out? Carly only lives here, you know. If you get a good head start —"
The cat's growls devolved into an otherworldly moan, the sort of sound you'd indeed expect to hear from some leathery, hobbit-eating cave monster. It now climbed to the very top of the screen, its freakishly triangular head somehow aimed at him the whole way.
Patrick took a step back, grabbed the plastic-bristled broom leaning against the radiator, and said, "Let's do each other a favor, okay?"
The cat uttered a new sort of hiss that raised goose pimples up and down his arms.
"Deal," said Patrick. He angled the broom ahead of him like a lance, stepped to the front edge of the "Bless This Mess" entryway mat, judged his mark, and charged.
The tip of the broom handle caught the latch, flinging the door wide and dislodging the animal, which — seemingly in slow motion — sailed out over the flagstone walkway. Like some mangy, waddle-bellied high-diver, it corkscrewed in midair, somehow got its legs beneath it, and disappeared with a dull thump among the Christmas ferns along the side of the house.
The creature then periscoped its bony head above the foliage, gave Patrick the briefest devil-eyed stare, and torpedoed away through the plants, across the lawn, and through the thirteen-foot-high hedges of Mr. Coffin's mansion next door.
"Don't do anything I wouldn't do," he said softly. It was one of Dad's more annoying fuddy-duddy expressions but Patrick figured it was actually kind of funny in this case. He pulled shut the screen door and headed into the kitchen. He was past starving.CHAPTER 3
One thing Patrick had always been very good at was cooking. Mom said it was because he had an organized mind — just like hers — at least when he chose to use it. But Patrick knew the biggest reason he was good at cooking was that he wanted to be good at cooking. And the principal reason for this was that Uncle Andrew had told Patrick that cooking was a lot like chemistry.
If there was one person in the whole world Patrick wanted to emulate, it was his Uncle Andrew. Uncle Andrew didn't talk about baseball or golf or politics. Uncle Andrew didn't get on Patrick's case about grades. Uncle Andrew didn't compare Patrick to his brothers and sisters. Uncle Andrew brought Patrick cool gifts like Calvin and Hobbes books. Uncle Andrew told jokes and stories — like the one about the farmer, the pig, the cork, and the monkey — that Patrick would never in a million years have heard from his parents or from any other adult he knew.
And Uncle Andrew had a job Uncle Andrew loved, which was not something Patrick could say for any other grownups he knew. A car ride home from school usually involved his mother complaining about a client meeting, her schedule, her co-workers, or her commute. A dinner seldom went by without his father saying something gloomy about the prospects of the book publishing company for which he was a sales rep.
Patrick climbed onto a stool, retrieved the seldom-used waffle maker from the top cabinet, grabbed some Fluffy Clouds pancake mix from the pantry, logged into the kitchen computer, converted the back-of-box recipe into metric units, and typed up a proper experimental protocol.
And, from there — and in a matter of only thirteen minutes — he managed to produce twelve perfectly cooked waffles.
Uncle Andrew, he was certain, would have been proud.
* * *
Patrick felt a little queasy after the seventh waffle, but it was okay. It was nice for once: his own stomach letting him know he was full rather than — as was generally the case — somebody else telling him he'd had enough, and that he should go put his plate in the dishwasher. Plus, they had been the best waffles he'd ever eaten.
He burped into the back of his hand and went to the bathroom for some vitamins and some of his dad's fruit-flavored antacid pills. The latter were a good source of calcium and he tried to eat a few every week.
Patrick didn't get bullied or teased at school for being small — he was pretty much average for his class — but Neil had taken to calling him Patty Shortstockings, and one of his greatest wishes in life was to one day become taller, and stronger, than his thirteen-months-older brother.
Patrick chewed down a third chalky tablet — this one was "berry" flavored and hurt his mouth slightly less than the "lime" ones — and wondered if he'd ever in his life heard himself chew like this.
The quiet was almost alarming. He reassured himself that everything so far this morning had only been good. He'd broken his banister-slide landing record, he'd liberated his sister's evil cat, and he'd made the best waffles of his life. In fact, bad stuff — getting yelled at, punched, tackled, breaking something, spilling something, having to talk about something boring, having something stolen from him, getting laughed at, getting teased, getting forced to run errands or to do chores — all of that was obviously way more likely to happen when he hadn't been forgotten all alone at home.
Plus, if something actually were to happen, he could always call Mom or Dad on their cells.
No, the only thing he should be worrying about now was wasting what little time he had left. He regarded the tubes and bottles on the medicine cabinet shelves in front of him and — in a flash — what to do next became abundantly clear.CHAPTER 4
Mary Meyer Griffin, Patrick's mother, jolted as if she'd heard a gunshot. Her memo tone — a few bars from the theme to Jeopardy — had just gone off, prompting her to glance at her iPhone. The reminder read,
This was so she wouldn't forget to take Carly to her soccer clinic. She'd already done this. The next was
Mouth grd 4 Neil
This was so she wouldn't forget to pick up a new mouthguard for Neil's lacrosse game that afternoon, which was why she was now standing in the checkout line at Cap'n'Jock's Sporting Supply Company. It was her eldest son's third mouthguard already this season. He chewed them to pieces, much as he'd done with pacifiers and then plastic toys as a small child. She and her husband sometimes joked that he was one-quarter Labrador retriever.
Ptrk b-day: Andrew
This third was not so that she didn't forget Patrick's birthday on Thursday — she liked to think she was incapable of being quite that negligent — but, rather, a reminder to take some extra care picking out his gift.
Her otherwise reserved middle son was openly crazy for chemistry, so for this past Christmas she'd gone online, done some research, and ordered him the J. G. Ballard Junior Laboratory Experiment Kit. It had been in the right age range, had received positive customer reviews (four and a half stars), and had only cost $54.99, with free shipping.
Patrick had of course been very polite about receiving it. Much like her brother Andrew, Patrick was the quintessential middle child — seldom if ever throwing the sorts of tantrums or succumbing to the emotional outbursts of his older and younger siblings. But she'd known the instant he'd unwrapped the gift and forced himself to smile (and later, when he'd managed to solve every experiment it contained in under an hour and had neatly put its box away in the playroom closet) that the kit had been beneath both his abilities and his interest. This coming birthday she was resolved to make it up to him.
And so this memo was to ask Patrick's favorite uncle, Andrew, for some guidance.
But now, as she stuck Neil's unpurchased mouthguard into a trading card display and apologized her way past the customers standing behind her in line, she realized she might be responsible for something a lot worse than a disappointing Christmas gift.
"Rick!" she screamed her husband's name into her iPhone as she ran through the crowded, rainy Saturday-morning strip-mall parking lot toward her silver SUV. "Please tell me you brought Patrick with you this morning!?"
Excerpted from Patrick Griffin's Last Breakfast on Earth by Ned Rust, Jake Parker. Copyright © 2016 Ned Rust. Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
PART I: INNOCENTS,
PART II: INTERLOPERS,
PART III: IMPRESARIOS,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR,
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