Peter “PB” Barnes’s whole life all of Surly has pushed him and J together. Now he wants more than taking care of pigs and dating his predetermined soulmate. But ditching your soulmate is tricky business.
In retaliation, J turns to stay-at-home criminal mastermind Soccer Mom. With Soccer Mom pulling the strings, what starts as a little bit of sabotage turns into a conspiracy of food and espionage that could throw the town of sleepy Surly into total chaos. Soon J and Peter are caught up in a war that leads to runaway pigs, dance battles, and a slew of food poisoning.
With the help of Guy the Guidance Counselor and a squad of misfit crime-fighting kids, Peter takes up the mantle of Pizza Boy. Now it’s up to Pizza Boy and the Super Squad to stop Soccer Mom and her criminal underworld before everything in Surly is under her control.
|Publisher:||Future House Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.80(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||8 - 14 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Most schools served something normal on Fridays, like pizza. Peter tried to ignore the sidelong glares from other kids in the lunch line. It was his fault, apparently, that the school occasionally served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on Fridays in honor of the town’s first and only major event. Certainly, it made life easy for lunch workers. They just set up a self-serve PB&J station and let the kids make their own sandwiches. Throw in some baby carrots and celery sticks and voilà, lunch is done. Peter chose a jar so covered in spillage that he couldn’t tell what sort of jelly was inside. Grape, he hoped. J nudged him with her elbow. “Don’t spill that, PB. It’ll stain.” Her hazel eyes twinkled with mischief. J had been teasing Peter about stains all week, since their annual grape battle. The fence between their houses was covered with grapevines. No one could eat them all before they got soggy and overripe. This year’s epic Jaylee Yates vs. Peter Barnes’ ripe grape throwing war had left both of their driveways covered with stains that would take months to wash off. Truth be told, Peter had come off better in that fight and J was certainly thinking revenge. But this was the cafeteria. She wouldn’t dare. Peter tried to play it cool as he spread the purple jelly on his sandwiches—way too much. Would J see that as a threat? He tried not to show any emotion, but mounting giggles shook his shoulders, like invisible monkeys jumping on his back. And J was making suppressed spurts of noise that sounded like a cross between an asthma attack and a Heimlich maneuver. She went for grape jelly as well. This could only go badly. When she didn’t close her sandwich, but left the grape jelly-covered side open, it was a near declaration of war. That was like opening your nuclear missile silos. Did he dare peel his sandwiches open? Peter’s heart began to thump with anticipation. He skipped the carrots but waited as J spread peanut butter over her celery sticks, in another of America’s bizarre culinary traditions. At least at the high school they didn’t put raisins on top, like ants on a log. While she was distracted, Peter carefully separated his white bread sandwiches. When J looked up, Peter’s grape jelly arsenal was fully exposed. Her expression shifted into a sly grin, like a kid who just found out their parents were going to be out of town for two straight days. J had spotted an opportunity. Peter knew that look. When J made up her mind, there was no going back. Peter’s eyes darted around, checking if anyone else had noticed the brewing battle. It was too late. Half-eaten PB&J sandwiches around the lunchroom were coming apart. There was no retreat. Peter glanced at the lunch workers. They weren’t paying attention, sitting in folding chairs behind the lunch counter, probably gossiping about the cost of hay. This couldn’t happen. He was in ninth grade. In Surly, that was high school. Of course, it only meant that his classes were on the west side of the school offices. Surly’s small middle school and high school shared a campus and administration, although the high schoolers showed up earlier and ate first on A days. But still, they were fourteen. In a few weeks, Peter would be fourteen and a half. In Idaho, that meant he could get a learner’s permit. He would be driving. Sensing the impending mayhem, several girls panicked, leaving their trays at their tables and making a run for it. They must have liked their outfits. Peter winced. That was a mistake. They should have gone under the tables and risked exposure to decades-old gum residue. All at once, the cafeteria devolved into a war zone. J launched her bread with a deft flick of the wrist. The jelly-covered slice of bread came at Peter spinning like a discus. J was a pro. You couldn’t just hurl your jelly-covered bread at someone. It could turn over in the air and the backside of the bread would hit their face. A spinning piece of bread, on the other hand, was liable to release blobs of jelly in all directions, like a lawn sprinkler. When it struck, you had a decent chance of getting a solid hit as the bread buckled. Peter tried to dodge, but he’d been watching the other kids. He only had time to turn his back. Whap. J’s bread struck home, right between his shoulder blades.It is on! As Peter turned to hurl his first volley, he spotted more incoming fire. Too late, he realized that the food fight wasn’t targeting opponents equally. They were all targeting him. It was an ambush. Was this a setup? Peter couldn’t think about it. Instantly, his years of snowball fight tactical training in long Idaho winters took over.Find cover. Peter ran behind the PB&J tables as several jelly-covered bread missiles pelted his back, making wet squelches. Abandoning his tray to gravity, he ducked under the food table and chanced a glance up. There weren’t any more incoming volleys. In fact, the faces of everyone in the cafeteria were turned in his direction, eyes wide, in a stunned silence. It was just like the movies. Peter had a creeping sensation that something large and dangerous was lurking behind him.Does J have an entire jar of grape jelly? Slowly, Peter turned his head and looked up. It was the vice-principal. Peter swallowed. Mr. Stewart’s lips smiled without parting, eyeing Peter like a detective who had finally caught a thief in the act. Peter could tell excuses would do him no good whatsoever. He tried anyway. “I never threw anything.” Mr. Stewart’s bushy grey eyebrows went up. “You mean, the sandwiches just started throwing themselves?”Oh, come on! Peter looked from Mr. Stewart to J, who was biting her lip, wincing, and trying not to laugh all at once. Then he glanced at the forest of trees watching him. At least that’s what the kids may as well have been, sitting at their tables with their hands in their laps and saintly expressions on their faces. None of them were going to admit it was a coordinated strike on him. Twenty against one. At best he could implicate J. But trying to pin the blame on J would just make him look pathetic. Peter was man enough to take the fall. He set his jaw and stood up. “Fine. I started it.” Playing it cool, he added, “It’s just a few pieces of bread.” “Then you won’t mind cleaning it up.” Peter missed Auto Shop, which was his only fun class, as he peeled soggy pieces of bread off the cafeteria floor and attempted to mop it clean. The middle school kids in second lunch avoided Peter’s area like the floor had vomit on it, carrying their trays around to the other side of the lunch tables. It was just PB&J. Somehow, with every swipe of his mop, the floor only grew stickier. None of this was fair—the way everyone had gone after him, taking their unspoken vengeance on him for PB&J day. How was PB&J day his fault? All he had done was be born on the same day as J. It wasn’t his doing that made their cute baby picture blow up on social media, or made people driving on the highway stop in front of Surly’s welcome sign to take selfies. “Welcome to Surly, the town that put PB&J together.” The welcome sign didn’t even list the town’s population, probably because it was too embarrassing.Embarrassing. Peter stared at the floor as a couple of eighth-grade girls avoided the sticky zone, giving him the same repulsed looks they used for centipedes and overweight middle-aged men wearing Speedos. Yeah, this is embarrassing.