In many ways, Frank Fratello is a typical teen. He plays baseball, hangs out with his friends at the mall and gets in trouble at home. But there’s something very different about this sixth-grader—he can read minds. And reading minds can cause problems. Like when Frank says what someone is thinking before they say it. Or answers a question before they ask it.
Despite being telepathic, Frank must deal with everyday middle school life, which includes battling a bully who hates him. Nasty Nate and his flunkies live to get others in trouble—especially Frank.
But Frank and his friends aren’t giving up. There has to be some way to bring Nasty Nate down. They just have to find it.
I have a secret. I know things. Lots of things. Like I know that my math teacher, Mr. Bugg, is going to pick his nose and wipe a booger on the back of his smiley face tie when he turns around to write on the whiteboard. I know Lacey, who sits next to me, is hoping Jon, who sits behind me, asks her to our sixth-grade school dance. And that Jon doesn’t notice the big bump on the tip of her nose when she accidentally-on-purpose plows into him while leaving class.
See what I mean? I know tons of things. Freaky Frank. That’s me, all right. I can get inside people’s brains and know what they’re thinking. It has its advantages. Like knowing Jen thinks I’m sort of, kind of cute. Or that my English teacher, Mrs. Plotkin, wishes I’d volunteer to read the part of Romeo in class because she thinks I’m “theatrical.” Brownie points there!
Knowing about boogers and bumps and potentially helpful things isn’t all bad. It’s the other stuff, the uncomfortable stuff, that creeps me out. Like what I heard my mom and dad thinking when I walked into the kitchen this morning.
“Mr. Fratello. Quit slouching in your seat.”
Mr. Bugg’s booming baritone voice jerked me to attention. I sat up straighter.
“Tell me, Mr. Fratello, what is direct variation and can you provide an example of this?”
Mr. Bugg thinks I don’t know the answer. More specifically, he’s thinking: Stupid kid wasn’t paying attention as usual. He won’t know the answer. I’ll get him good this time.
“You probably think I wasn’t paying attention or that I’m stupid.”
Mr. Bugg tugged on his booger-smeared tie, tilted his shiny bald head and scrunched his eyes so his bushy brows, which looked like giant caterpillars, slanted downward.
“But I know the answer. Direct variation. That’s when one variable varies directly as the other. When one variable increases, the other increases by the same factor.”
“And an example, Mr. Fratello?”
“Someone’s salary and the number of hours he works. The more hours he works, the more money he makes.”
Darn kid got it right, Mr. Bugg was thinking.
“Very good, Mr. Fratello.
I could hear Mr. Bugg wondering if he squeezed his butt cheeks tightly enough to hold in the fart he felt he was about to let fly. He was thinking he ate too many beans for lunch.
“Or, another example,” I blurted out. “The more beans you eat, the more gas you have.”
The entire algebra class exploded in laughter, and Mr. Bugg’s face turned tomato red. How is it that kid always seems to know what I’m thinking?
Mr. Bugg was saved by the bell, which, combined with the laughter, drowned out the one he let rip.
As I walked out the door to get to my next class, Lacey plowed into Jon. He didn’t notice the bump on her beak. All he could think about was her pink braces and how if he ever kissed her he’d probably end up with a bloody lip.
“Fart alert! Fart alert” Someone in the back yelled. “And it’s a plus-ten on the stink scale!”
I zeroed in on Mr. Bugg’s brain: Couldn’t hold that in any longer. What a relief!