Grunthar's Revenge #2

Author Bruce Hale
Illustrated by Luke Séguin-Magee
Perfect for fans of The Alien Next Door, this second illustrated chapter book in the Outer Space Mystery Pizza Club series is an out-of-this-world adventure!

With their trip to Kroon behind them, Mateo, Tina, Booker, and Jennica are back on Earth, Elvis the dog is no longer missing, and all is safe and sound...right?

Wrong! Hot on their tails are Grunthar and his motley alien crew. NoWay and Clorox have made their way to Earth, too, ready to help the kids against whatever Grunthar is planning. Tina is determined to be the hero this time, but will she be able to figure out what the alien inventor is up to before it’s too late?

Author Bruce Hale and illustrator Luke Séguin-Magee have crafted another rollicking tale featuring extraordinary black-and-white illustrations throughout.
Chapter 1

Alien Visitors


It was the kind of day people write poems about. Birds were crooning their birdie songs. Clouds mounded like scoops of vanilla ice cream, yummy enough to eat. The weather was Goldilocks-perfect: not too hot, not too cold—­just right.

And best of all, school was canceled so that teachers could have a professional development day. Valentina Garcia-­Jackson should have been ecstatic.

She was not.

“It’s so unfair,” she moaned, slumped at the dining room table. “Why do we have to do homework on our day off?”

The babysitter, Jennica Neel, glanced up from her computer tablet. “If you spent less time griping and more time working, you’d be finished already. Look at your brother.”

“I’d rather not.” Still, Tina sent a glare at Mateo, who was sprawled on the couch, rewatching one of those hobbit movies for the umpty-­umpth time.

To be honest, it wasn’t just the homework that was getting under her skin. It was also a new, unfamiliar feeling. A week ago, Tina had visited another planet with her babysitter, her one-­year-older brother, and their neighbor, Booker Davis. Amazing, right? But it had been Mateo, not her, who figured out where their missing dog, Elvis, had been taken.

At first, she was just blown away by their adventure and happy to get their dog back. But with each day, that strange feeling grew. Why hadn’t she been the one to solve the mystery? Why hadn’t she been the one to save the day?

After all, Tina was the athlete. Tina was the fearless one. So how come her bookish brother ended up being the hero?

Tina sent a second glare at Elvis, curled up by the couch with Mateo. Even the dog preferred her brother.

Life was so unfair.

Tina let her pencil drop. She glanced over at Jennica. “Ever think about going back?”

The babysitter lifted her eyebrows. “To planet Kroon?”

“Yeah.”

“The place where you almost drifted off into space?” asked Jennica.

“Yeah.”

“The place where we nearly got killed by broccoli smugglers, devoured by a monster, and drowned in a goo storm?”

“Well, yeah.”

Jennica scowled. “Oh, no. I am not taking you guys back there.”

“Why not?” asked Tina.

Setting down her tablet with a sigh, the babysitter said, “Because.”

“Because what?”

Crossing her arms, Jennica said, “Your parents hired me to protect you. What kind of babysitter would I be if I took you back into danger?”

Mateo chimed in, peeking over the couch back. “An awesome one?”

Jennica shook her head.

“Come on,” said Tina. “The portal is only three minutes away, in the woods.”

“I know where it is,” said Jennica.

“And?”

“Not going to happen.”

Over the week since their adventure, Tina had often thought about returning on her own, but somehow, she’d always decided against it. It wasn’t that she was chicken. Not her. But pulling a tricky stunt on her bike or diving off a cliff into a lake because someone dared her to was one thing. It was a whole other deal to visit an alien planet alone.

Tina sweetened her voice and tried a different tack. “Don’t you miss your alien boyfriend?”

“NoWay?” Jennica sat back. Two spots of color appeared on her cheeks. “He’s not my boyfriend. If anything, he’s Clorox’s.”

“But he’s kind of cute, isn’t he?” Tina pressed.

Jennica swatted away that idea. “Cute or not, I’m not risking our lives to chase after some guy from another planet.”

Mateo leaned his elbows on the back of the couch. “But don’t you kind of miss them? NoWay and Clorox, I mean?”

“Maybe a little.” The babysitter glanced down at her tablet.

“And aren’t you curious what they’re up to?” asked Tina.

“Of course I am.”

Mateo’s expression went dreamy. “I wonder if they’ll ever visit us.”

Tina scoffed. “Yeah, right.”

“Sometimes, I swear I can almost hear them calling,” said Mateo, “inviting us out for pizza.”
Shaking her head, Jennica said, “Yeah, what was up with all that pizza stuff, anyway? Those Kroonians were obsessed.”

“Pizza’s the best,” said Mateo.

Tina nodded. “Fact.”

“Well, sure,” said the babysitter, “but everyone on that planet was cuckoo for it. That’s not normal.”

Tina’s eyebrows crawled up her forehead.

“Normal? You expect a bunch of aliens who drive hover-­cars and chew gravity gum to be normal?”

“Fair point.”

“Anyway, we’re getting off track,” said Tina. “Here’s what I want to know: What would be so bad about going back to planet Kroon? Just for a quick visit?”

Jennica drew an exasperated breath and was about to reply when muffled voices intruded from outside. She cocked her head. “Is that—­?”

Tina sat bolt upright. “Someone’s calling our names!”

Hopping up from the sofa, Mateo asked, “Could it be . . . ?”

Elvis barked, a muted “Wurf!” He lunged to his feet.

In a rush, the Garcia-­Jackson kids and dog bolted for the back door. Jennica followed in their wake.

Tina flung open the door.

“Jennnnnica! Mateo! Tiiiina!” two familiar voices called from the tangle of wild land just beyond the backyard.

“NoWay?” said Tina. “No way!”

“Clorox!” cried Jennica, leaning out the doorway. “Over here!”

“Is that you?” The alien girl’s words emerged from the trees.

Mateo caught Elvis by his collar and crossed to the back gate. “Follow the sound of our voices! This way!”

Tina’s feet itched to move. Without thinking, she vaulted over the fence. Their alien friends had come for a visit!

Through the trees, she glimpsed two figures coming her way. Tina dashed to meet them.

Aside from walking all hunched over like old people, the two alien teens looked much like any teens on Earth. Tina’s heart leaped at the sight of NoWay’s swoopy boy-­band hair and Clorox’s colorful parachute pants.

“Hi!” Tina waved.

A crooked smile crossed NoWay’s face, but he didn’t come running up to greet her. Instead, he and Clorox shuffled forward like it was bingo night at the old folks’ home and they wanted the last open seats.

“Great to see you!” said Tina. “Why are you walking funny?”

“It is your—­ugh—­gravity,” said Clorox.

“It’s . . . heavy,” NoWay added.

By this time, Mateo and Jennica had joined them. Jennica gave the aliens quick hugs, although Tina noticed that NoWay’s lasted longer than Clorox’s. After exchanging high fives and allowing some friendly sniffs from Elvis, Mateo asked, “But doesn’t your fancy gum help you handle any gravity?”

“Yes,” said NoWay. “But it takes a while before it works.” He straightened experimentally, then sighed in relief. “You must be so strong, walking in this gravity all the time.”

Mateo flexed his scrawny biceps. “Super buff!”

“Ha!” Tina snorted a laugh.

Jennica fiddled with her dark hair. “Everything okay on planet Kroon?” she asked the boy alien.

“Yes, er, no—­er, it’s not that,” said NoWay.

Tina smirked. “Well, that’s clear as mud.”

“But mud isn’t clear,” said NoWay, frowning.

“We—­” Clorox began but was cut off by another voice.

“What’s all the hoo-­ha?” Booker Davis, their friend and neighbor, strolled up the path from his backyard. When he saw the alien teens, the corner of his lip twitched. He shook his head.

“Don’t tell me,” said Booker. “There’s a disaster on your home planet, and you need our help.”
Clorox raised a finger. “Actually, versa-­visa.”

“Huh?” said Mateo.

“The disaster is on your planet,” said Clorox. “And you need our help.”
Bruce Hale has performed extensively on stage and on television and is a popular speaker, teacher, and storyteller for both children and adults. From picture books to novels and graphic novels, Bruce has written and/or illustrated over fifty books for kids. His popular series include the award-winning Chet Gecko Mysteries, among others. These days, Bruce lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, his sweet mutt, Riley, and his massive collection of hats. View titles by Bruce Hale

About

Perfect for fans of The Alien Next Door, this second illustrated chapter book in the Outer Space Mystery Pizza Club series is an out-of-this-world adventure!

With their trip to Kroon behind them, Mateo, Tina, Booker, and Jennica are back on Earth, Elvis the dog is no longer missing, and all is safe and sound...right?

Wrong! Hot on their tails are Grunthar and his motley alien crew. NoWay and Clorox have made their way to Earth, too, ready to help the kids against whatever Grunthar is planning. Tina is determined to be the hero this time, but will she be able to figure out what the alien inventor is up to before it’s too late?

Author Bruce Hale and illustrator Luke Séguin-Magee have crafted another rollicking tale featuring extraordinary black-and-white illustrations throughout.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Alien Visitors


It was the kind of day people write poems about. Birds were crooning their birdie songs. Clouds mounded like scoops of vanilla ice cream, yummy enough to eat. The weather was Goldilocks-perfect: not too hot, not too cold—­just right.

And best of all, school was canceled so that teachers could have a professional development day. Valentina Garcia-­Jackson should have been ecstatic.

She was not.

“It’s so unfair,” she moaned, slumped at the dining room table. “Why do we have to do homework on our day off?”

The babysitter, Jennica Neel, glanced up from her computer tablet. “If you spent less time griping and more time working, you’d be finished already. Look at your brother.”

“I’d rather not.” Still, Tina sent a glare at Mateo, who was sprawled on the couch, rewatching one of those hobbit movies for the umpty-­umpth time.

To be honest, it wasn’t just the homework that was getting under her skin. It was also a new, unfamiliar feeling. A week ago, Tina had visited another planet with her babysitter, her one-­year-older brother, and their neighbor, Booker Davis. Amazing, right? But it had been Mateo, not her, who figured out where their missing dog, Elvis, had been taken.

At first, she was just blown away by their adventure and happy to get their dog back. But with each day, that strange feeling grew. Why hadn’t she been the one to solve the mystery? Why hadn’t she been the one to save the day?

After all, Tina was the athlete. Tina was the fearless one. So how come her bookish brother ended up being the hero?

Tina sent a second glare at Elvis, curled up by the couch with Mateo. Even the dog preferred her brother.

Life was so unfair.

Tina let her pencil drop. She glanced over at Jennica. “Ever think about going back?”

The babysitter lifted her eyebrows. “To planet Kroon?”

“Yeah.”

“The place where you almost drifted off into space?” asked Jennica.

“Yeah.”

“The place where we nearly got killed by broccoli smugglers, devoured by a monster, and drowned in a goo storm?”

“Well, yeah.”

Jennica scowled. “Oh, no. I am not taking you guys back there.”

“Why not?” asked Tina.

Setting down her tablet with a sigh, the babysitter said, “Because.”

“Because what?”

Crossing her arms, Jennica said, “Your parents hired me to protect you. What kind of babysitter would I be if I took you back into danger?”

Mateo chimed in, peeking over the couch back. “An awesome one?”

Jennica shook her head.

“Come on,” said Tina. “The portal is only three minutes away, in the woods.”

“I know where it is,” said Jennica.

“And?”

“Not going to happen.”

Over the week since their adventure, Tina had often thought about returning on her own, but somehow, she’d always decided against it. It wasn’t that she was chicken. Not her. But pulling a tricky stunt on her bike or diving off a cliff into a lake because someone dared her to was one thing. It was a whole other deal to visit an alien planet alone.

Tina sweetened her voice and tried a different tack. “Don’t you miss your alien boyfriend?”

“NoWay?” Jennica sat back. Two spots of color appeared on her cheeks. “He’s not my boyfriend. If anything, he’s Clorox’s.”

“But he’s kind of cute, isn’t he?” Tina pressed.

Jennica swatted away that idea. “Cute or not, I’m not risking our lives to chase after some guy from another planet.”

Mateo leaned his elbows on the back of the couch. “But don’t you kind of miss them? NoWay and Clorox, I mean?”

“Maybe a little.” The babysitter glanced down at her tablet.

“And aren’t you curious what they’re up to?” asked Tina.

“Of course I am.”

Mateo’s expression went dreamy. “I wonder if they’ll ever visit us.”

Tina scoffed. “Yeah, right.”

“Sometimes, I swear I can almost hear them calling,” said Mateo, “inviting us out for pizza.”
Shaking her head, Jennica said, “Yeah, what was up with all that pizza stuff, anyway? Those Kroonians were obsessed.”

“Pizza’s the best,” said Mateo.

Tina nodded. “Fact.”

“Well, sure,” said the babysitter, “but everyone on that planet was cuckoo for it. That’s not normal.”

Tina’s eyebrows crawled up her forehead.

“Normal? You expect a bunch of aliens who drive hover-­cars and chew gravity gum to be normal?”

“Fair point.”

“Anyway, we’re getting off track,” said Tina. “Here’s what I want to know: What would be so bad about going back to planet Kroon? Just for a quick visit?”

Jennica drew an exasperated breath and was about to reply when muffled voices intruded from outside. She cocked her head. “Is that—­?”

Tina sat bolt upright. “Someone’s calling our names!”

Hopping up from the sofa, Mateo asked, “Could it be . . . ?”

Elvis barked, a muted “Wurf!” He lunged to his feet.

In a rush, the Garcia-­Jackson kids and dog bolted for the back door. Jennica followed in their wake.

Tina flung open the door.

“Jennnnnica! Mateo! Tiiiina!” two familiar voices called from the tangle of wild land just beyond the backyard.

“NoWay?” said Tina. “No way!”

“Clorox!” cried Jennica, leaning out the doorway. “Over here!”

“Is that you?” The alien girl’s words emerged from the trees.

Mateo caught Elvis by his collar and crossed to the back gate. “Follow the sound of our voices! This way!”

Tina’s feet itched to move. Without thinking, she vaulted over the fence. Their alien friends had come for a visit!

Through the trees, she glimpsed two figures coming her way. Tina dashed to meet them.

Aside from walking all hunched over like old people, the two alien teens looked much like any teens on Earth. Tina’s heart leaped at the sight of NoWay’s swoopy boy-­band hair and Clorox’s colorful parachute pants.

“Hi!” Tina waved.

A crooked smile crossed NoWay’s face, but he didn’t come running up to greet her. Instead, he and Clorox shuffled forward like it was bingo night at the old folks’ home and they wanted the last open seats.

“Great to see you!” said Tina. “Why are you walking funny?”

“It is your—­ugh—­gravity,” said Clorox.

“It’s . . . heavy,” NoWay added.

By this time, Mateo and Jennica had joined them. Jennica gave the aliens quick hugs, although Tina noticed that NoWay’s lasted longer than Clorox’s. After exchanging high fives and allowing some friendly sniffs from Elvis, Mateo asked, “But doesn’t your fancy gum help you handle any gravity?”

“Yes,” said NoWay. “But it takes a while before it works.” He straightened experimentally, then sighed in relief. “You must be so strong, walking in this gravity all the time.”

Mateo flexed his scrawny biceps. “Super buff!”

“Ha!” Tina snorted a laugh.

Jennica fiddled with her dark hair. “Everything okay on planet Kroon?” she asked the boy alien.

“Yes, er, no—­er, it’s not that,” said NoWay.

Tina smirked. “Well, that’s clear as mud.”

“But mud isn’t clear,” said NoWay, frowning.

“We—­” Clorox began but was cut off by another voice.

“What’s all the hoo-­ha?” Booker Davis, their friend and neighbor, strolled up the path from his backyard. When he saw the alien teens, the corner of his lip twitched. He shook his head.

“Don’t tell me,” said Booker. “There’s a disaster on your home planet, and you need our help.”
Clorox raised a finger. “Actually, versa-­visa.”

“Huh?” said Mateo.

“The disaster is on your planet,” said Clorox. “And you need our help.”

Author

Bruce Hale has performed extensively on stage and on television and is a popular speaker, teacher, and storyteller for both children and adults. From picture books to novels and graphic novels, Bruce has written and/or illustrated over fifty books for kids. His popular series include the award-winning Chet Gecko Mysteries, among others. These days, Bruce lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, his sweet mutt, Riley, and his massive collection of hats. View titles by Bruce Hale