"Creepy and fun with spot-on humor, Potions in the Pizza is must-read Middle Grade. Pure magic!" - Frank L. Cole, author of The Afterlife Academy.10-year-old twins Ethan and Emmy’s parents have never told their kids what they do for a living. Then just before Halloween, while their parents are away on an emergency business trip, Ethan, Emmy, and their best friend Jax discover a HUGE secret: could the twins’ parents actually be . . . witch hunters?Meanwhile at school, a new team of glamorous lunch ladies arrives on the scene, serving meals that taste way too good to come from a school cafeteria. There's only one logical explanation: they’re witches, and the meals they serve are spiked with a dangerous potion!Why have witches come to Roosevelt Elementary? Where have Ethan and Emmy’s parents gone? Can it be a mere coincidence that their parents left just as the witches arrived?Whether they’re ready or not, Ethan and Emmy have only one option if they want to save their school and find their parents: become witch hunters themselves."Emmy, Ethan, and Jax are my new best friends. I loved every minute of this book and want to read more about this spunky, funny trio. Quirky, laugh-out-loud hilarious, and exciting, this is a great read for kids and adults who are kids at heart. Read it! Now!" - J. Scott Savage, author of Case Files 13 series and Mysteries of Cove series.
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The W.H.O. Files: Potions in the Pizza
By Mikey Brooks
Future House PublishingCopyright © 2016 Mikey Brooks
All rights reserved.
A Gross Lunch
Ethan Orion sneered down at his school lunch. The gooey ball on his tray resembled a large booger surrounded by white, snot-like gravy. The menu read "chicken and dumplings." He didn't see any chicken. Maybe the dumpling ate it? Or maybe it was an egg laid by one of the alien lunch ladies? Any minute a creature with seventeen eyes and smelling of overcooked cabbage was going to pop out and consume the rest of his lunch.
That's okay, Ethan thought. The creature can have it. I don't want any kidney beans or carrot-raisin salad.
"You gonna eat that?" Jax asked.
Ethan shook his head, unable to look away from the jiggling mass.
Jax pulled his lunch tray across the table and began slurping up the gelatinous orb. "Mm ..."
"I think I'm going to be sick." Ethan tried not to watch Jax choke down the alien embryo.
"Wha? Vis is good!"
"Man, say it, don't spray it!"
Jax ignored him and started in on the carrot-raisin salad. Ethan didn't understand how his best friend could stand to eat this garbage. Hadn't he noticed the salad looked like it could walk off his tray any second?
Ethan could have killed his mom for forgetting to pack his lunch. It was the third time this month. Last week, he'd been forced to eat a hotdog, and not the good kind you get at a ballpark. It had exploded at one end and the casing looked like it was made of snake's sloughed skin. Who knew what kind of animal the meat belonged to? When he'd asked the lunch lady serving the overcooked wieners, the old hag growled at him — actually growled! He imagined she'd caught the creature herself. Probably some defenseless alley cat or lost dog. Who needs animal control when you have lunch ladies?
"What about your milk — can I have it?"
Ethan shrugged. "Man, where do you put all that food?"
Jax swiped the milk. That kid ate more food than three people combined. Anyone with an appetite that size should have been the fattest kid in school, but Jax was as thin as a popsicle stick.
"You finished? Sure you don't want to eat the tray?"
"No, I'm good."
Humor was sometimes lost on Jax. No matter how hard Ethan tried to be funny, the jokes just rolled off him like water off a duck's butt.
They got up from the table and made their way toward the corner of the cafeteria. They ditched their trays at the wash counter and rushed through the double doors leading out into the hallway. The roar of kids trying to swallow their chicken and dumplings was replaced by silence. Ethan crossed over to the drinking fountain and tried to fill his belly with water.
"Dude, save some for the fishes," Jax said. Ethan swallowed a few more mouthfuls and let Jax have a swig at the fountain.
"We've got about fifteen minutes before the bell rings." Ethan looked at his watch, even though he knew exactly what time it was. They had a math test after lunch, and he was excited to show off how much he'd studied.
"Dude, don't remind me."
"Don't worry. This test is going to be a cinch."
"You know math's not my thing." Jax had to remind Ethan of this at least twice a day. Where Ethan was smart in math and science, his best friend lacked ability. Jax did have pretty sweet skills in the history department, though. The guy could tell you exact dates for the most random stuff. Like the exact order of the presidents of the United States, the places of all the major battle sites during the Civil War, or even when toilet paper was invented.
"Do you want to go over some of the homework problems?" Ethan offered. "It might help."
"And take a test before the test? ... Ah, no. Let's go shoot some hoops until the bell rings."
Ethan reluctantly followed Jax down the hall and outside. Ethan hated sports. It wasn't that they weren't cool. He sometimes enjoyed watching a game. The fact was — he sucked! Whenever he picked up a basketball, everyone in school stopped what they were doing and turned their attention to him. Look everyone! Ethan Orion is trying to shoot a hoop! Let's all go laugh at him!
Jax strutted onto the blacktop like he owned the court — and he did. He looked like a demi-god with the afternoon sun glaring off his brown skin. Jax was born for basketball. He was super tall for a kid in the fifth grade, and his long arms made him perfect for slam dunks. In comparison, Ethan felt like a nobody — a really short nobody.
"Here, you shoot first," Jax said, tossing him the ball. Ethan held it like a round, orange foreign object. He dropped it, and it bounced with a slight ping as it hit the blacktop. He dribbled, as if his pathetic attempts could be called that.
Sweat dripped from his forehead. For crying out loud, it isn't even that hot. It's October! Dozens of eyes riveted on him. He'd rather be inside. He'd rather be forced to eat the chicken and dumplings. Ethan whirled around, his friend's brown eyes narrowed in anticipation. Ethan could almost hear him: Dude, shoot the ball. We don't have all day.
Ethan bounced the ball once more before catching it. He lifted it above his head and tossed it toward the hoop. The basketball flew a few feet into the air and came down with a loud ping. He hadn't even come close.
Jax grabbed the ball and tossed it up. It swooshed through the net.
Jax never missed.
"Whoa, Orion," a familiar voice called. "Remind me never to get put on your team. Can you say 'air ball?'"
Ethan turned to see Robbie Maser's hulking form standing behind him. The guy gave Ethan worse heebie jeebies than the school lunch. It wasn't the fact that he was the size of an eighth grader, or that his face resembled an angry bulldog. Robbie Maser had the annoying habit of always being around when Ethan messed up — and he didn't mind blabbing it to the entire world.
"Shut it, Robbie," Jax said, coming to Ethan's defense. "You couldn't shoot a hoop if your mother's life depended on it."
"Oh, yeah? Why don't you say that to my face, Washington?"
"I just did." Jax tossed the ball at Robbie's chest. The brute caught the basketball like he'd been expecting it. His large sausage-like fingers wrapped around the ball. Ethan imagined him deflating it with one smash.
Robbie slammed the basketball hard against the blacktop. It bounced up fast. He lifted his arms, making a perfect toss into the hoop. The net swooshed. The small crowd that had formed around the blacktop "ooed." Jax grabbed the basketball, torpedoing over to where Robbie had thrown the ball. Jax stepped further back and shot the hoop.
* * *
Emmy Orion heard the shouts all the way across the field. A mass of kids ran toward the basketball hoops. Someone must be having a fight, she thought. Probably that no good, Robbie Maser. That goon is always picking on someone. She was surprised he hadn't been expelled yet. Her friends, Madison and Abigail, started jogging across the lawn.
"Where are you two going?" Emmy called. "I thought we were going to work on the new dance routine?"
"Come on, Em, there's a fight or something."
Emmy didn't follow. She got up from the grass and placed her hands firmly on her hips. Madison and Abigail didn't take dancing seriously enough. If they didn't practice, then they wouldn't be ready for the talent show next month. Emmy refused to stand up on stage in front of the school if their dance hadn't been thoroughly choreographed.
She turned to Hannah, her only friend that hadn't abandoned their rehearsal. "It's probably just Robbie beating up somebody. Who hasn't seen that at least ten times this year?"
"I saw your brother." Hannah pointed toward the basketball hoops.
"What? Ethan wouldn't watch a fight."
"No, I saw him on the blacktop with Robbie."
"Why didn't you say something?"
Emmy ran across the field. If Robbie Maser was beating up her brother, she was going to make him wish he'd never been born. Her long ginger braid flapped against her back as she ran. Hannah ran behind her, panting.
Emmy pushed kids out of the way. Where was the stupid teacher on duty? If her brother got hurt, that would be two people who'd wish they'd never been born. The sea of kids parted. Robbie's ogre-like form materialized. The sweating brute had the face of an elephant's backside. She pushed in close. Ethan stood in front of Robbie like the biblical David before Goliath, but instead of a rock and sling, he held a basketball.
Emmy clenched her fists, ready to stop Robbie from picking on her brother. She'd teach him a lesson he'd never forget. Ethan dropped the ball and it pinged off the blacktop once, twice.
"Come on, Orion, I haven't got all day," Robbie taunted. "Shoot the hoop."
What? Emmy thought, halting herself. This wasn't a fight. Her brother was shooting hoops with Robbie. What is he thinking? Ethan was all about books, not sports. He can't — Ethan lifted the basketball above his head and tossed it toward the hoop.
It hit the backboard, pinged off the rim, and dropped into Robbie's waiting hands.
"I don't even know why you try," Robbie said, shooting the hoop and making it.
The crowd of kids laughed along with Robbie, and Emmy's heart ached for her brother. His face was turning so red it clashed with his ginger hair. She wanted to run out onto the blacktop and give Robbie a piece of her mind.
"Shut your hole, Robbie," Jax said, snatching the ball. "It almost went in."
"Yeah, but it didn't."
Jax stepped in next to Ethan and repeated the same shot. The net swooshed. He tossed the ball to Robbie.
The Neanderthal dribbled the ball a few times, then threw it high in the air. It didn't make it. Instead, it flew right over the backboard. The kids erupted in laughter.
"Air ball!" Ethan shouted. Jax and a few others slapped high fives. Emmy beamed for her brother. He'd actually stood up to Robbie Maser. No one at Roosevelt Elementary had ever done that.
In a flash Robbie brought his fist down, punching Ethan on the cheek. Flames burst inside Emmy. That was it! She pushed the three third graders in front of her out of her way, charged across the blacktop, leaped on top of Robbie's back, grabbed his hair, and pulled.
"Ahhh!" Robbie screamed. "Somebody get this witch off me!"
"I'll teach you to hit my brother!" Emmy roared. She got two fists full of hair and pulled again. Robbie collapsed onto the blacktop. Emmy climbed onto his back and yanked again. He covered his head. Oh, please, I hardly pulled anything. This kid is a wimp!
Emmy pushed off him. She got to her feet and stood face-to-face with Mr. Braffin — A.K.A. the Barf Bag.
"What's going on here?"
"What's going on is that you're not doing your job!" Emmy shouted. Mr. Braffin glared at Emmy, but she lifted a wagging finger at him. "It's the job of the teacher on duty to see that no kids get in fights. I saw Robbie hit my brother, so I stopped him. I wouldn't have had to do that if you were doing your job!"
"You will watch your mouth, young lady," Mr. Braffin said.
The bell rang. All the kids around the blacktop protested and moved toward the school. Emmy saw Madison and Abigail roll their eyes and disappear into the crowd, heading for class. Jax helped Ethan up. He rubbed his red cheek, and Emmy had to hold back another urge to tear Robbie apart. Ethan gave Emmy an awkward grin, and then along with Jax, joined the mob of kids heading toward the school. Robbie continued to bawl on the blacktop as if she'd scalped him.
The scolding eyes of Mr. Braffin locked on hers. "I'm going to have to give you a demerit, Emmaline."
"Oh, come on! Show some appreciation!" Emmy wasn't backing down. Had the Barf Bag been doing his job, Ethan wouldn't have gotten hurt. She wouldn't have had to stop her dance rehearsal.
"You're back-talking a teacher, Miss Orion. If you don't calm down, I will escort you to Principal Fenwick's office."
"Oh, that will be fine! I'll tell him how my brother got beat up on your watch. How I ran all the way across the field in the time it took you to actually notice something was going on. I'm sure Principal Fenwick will love to hear what you were doing. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get to class before the tardy bell rings."
Emmy turned on her heels and marched toward the school. The Barf Bag didn't say anything. What can he say? Turning me into the Principal will only get him in trouble.He'll probably take it out on me during class. Give me extra homework — like that's something new.
Robbie was still crying like a baby, but her brother was fine.
She marched past the doors and down the hall to the classroom. As she entered, the whispers stopped. Emmy smiled at the shocked faces and took her seat next to Hannah. The class continued in their conversations. She caught bits about her kicking Robbie's butt.
"I can't believe you stood up to the Barf Bag like that," Hannah said, shock still prevalent on her face.
"He wasn't doing his job."
"Still, Em, he's a teacher. They control your life. Mess with them and you'll never go to college."
"Hannah, I am not worried about the Barf Bag keeping me from anything."
Mr. Braffin clomped into the classroom, letting the heavy metal door swing back; it slammed shut with a crash. Everyone froze as if under a spell. The silence was thick as he strode across the room toward Emmy, his feet pounding hard into the high traffic carpet. He pulled a pink slip from his clipboard and set it on her desk. Without a word, he stomped to the front of the class. Emmy held back the urge to throw the slip at his back as he went. The nerve to give me a demerit for doing his job! How am I going to explain this to Mom and Dad?
"I hope you all enjoyed your lunch," Mr. Braffin said. "It's test time. Everything away except a pencil."
Emmy rolled her eyes and enthusiastically waved her pink slip in the air before depositing it into her desk.CHAPTER 2
The Family Business
Why is it when things get a little bad they always turn worse? Ethan was mad at himself for even trying. It was just as he predicated; he'd try for a three-pointer and everyone would be around to witness his failure. Then he just couldn't help it could he? Why didn't he keep his mouth shut when Robbie missed? If he had, his face wouldn't hurt, his twin sister wouldn't have gone crazy, and he wouldn't be the topic of everyone's whispers.
Oh yeah, Ethan knew they were talking about him. He was the kid that needed his big sister to fight his battles. Big sister — arriving three-and-a-half-minutes before me really doesn't make her the oldest ... right?
The math test was a blur. His cheek hurt so bad that he couldn't focus on the story problems. If Robbie hit you four times in the face at least fifteen times a month, how many times would you've been hit? No, that wasn't the problem, but that's all Ethan could think of. Robbie was good at making fun of people but he'd never resorted to actual violence before. Now, Ethan had something else to fear besides having to eat another school lunch: Robbie's revenge. He knew it was coming. The jerk didn't know how to back down.
"How'd you do?" Jax asked as they walked to the corner of the schoolyard. Ethan shrugged. He didn't want to admit he only got as far as writing his name. At least this would be one math test Jax scored higher on than him. It wasn't the end of the world. Mrs. Burton would probably let him retake it if he asked. So far, Ethan had scored perfectly on every math test.
"I think I did okay," Jax said. "I like the art project Mrs. Burton assigned. What object are you going to make?"
Ethan thought back to the latter part of class. Mrs. Burton had said something about creating mosaic art. They were to pick an object and create it by using hundreds of tiny pieces of colored paper. The only object in Ethan's mind was Robbie's fist flying toward his face. He guessed Mrs. Burton wouldn't find that project creative enough.
"Not sure. What about you?"
"The Greeks had tons of mosaic art. They used a variety of shells and stones. I think I'm going to make a falcon. I saw a mosaic once at the museum of a bird. I think it was a falcon."
"That sounds cool ..." Ethan sighed. Jax would be excited about an art project in which he could take tips from history.
"Hey, Jax," a voice called from behind them. Ethan turned to see Nick running from the building followed by his best friend Tyler. Nick held out Jax's basketball. "You left this on the blacktop."
"Hey thanks," Jax said, taking the ball. "I forgot all about it."
"Yeah. So that was a nice game." Tyler chuckled. Ethan could see him trying to examine his cheek for any evidence of Robbie's hand print. He knew Tyler didn't mean anything by it, but it still made Ethan feel embarrassed.
"It was a nice game until Robbie got involved," Jax said.
Nick let out a bark of a laugh. "Did you see the way Robbie cried? I swear he called out for his mommy."
Jax and Tyler laughed along, and Ethan gave his best attempt but his heart wasn't in it.
A horn honked and Nick turned toward the street. "Oh, got to go. See ya guys later."
Nick and Tyler raced toward the waiting minivan and Ethan let out a sigh.
Excerpted from The W.H.O. Files: Potions in the Pizza by Mikey Brooks. Copyright © 2016 Mikey Brooks. Excerpted by permission of Future House Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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