One afternoon, Tommy Frasier finds a talking slug hiding in his refrigerator.
Things get crazier from there.
Soon, Tommy is traveling across the galaxy, fighting space pirates and Arctic Viking Ducks, to help his slimy new friends.
Will he save the planet of the slugs?
Find out inside!
Ages 7 and up
Cover and interior illustrations by Becca Whitaker
Read the first few chapters of Tommy Frasier and the Planet of the Slugs!
It started out as a pretty normal day. I went to school, I took my spelling test, and after school I went to my tuba lesson. By the time I got home, I was hungry.
â€œHi, Mom!â€ I called as I opened the front door.
â€œHello, Tommy!â€ My mom was in the family room, working on her computer.
As I put my book bag on the floor, I saw a little blonde head peek around the corner. It disappeared a second later. I heard a giggle and footsteps running down the hall. That was my sister Bonnie. Sheâ€™s three. If you have a little sister, you know what that means.
â€œMom, can I get a snack?â€
â€œSure, Tommy, but just a small one,â€ Mom said. â€œDadâ€™s bringing home dinner from the Jade Garden.â€
The Jade Garden? Yum. Fried wontons were my favorite food in the whole world.
â€œTommy!â€ This was Bonnie. She leaned around a corner and waved at me. I could tell that she had done something she didnâ€™t want me to know about. Maybe she had gotten out all my Galactic Adventures action figures again. She likes to have tea parties for them. I just hoped she hadnâ€™t put the little dresses on them this time.
â€œHi, Bonnie,â€ I said. â€œWhat did you do?â€
â€œItâ€™s a surprise!â€ Bonnie giggled and ran off.
â€œWhat did Bonnie do?â€
â€œI donâ€™t think your sister did anything,â€ Mom said. â€œWhy do you ask?â€
â€œSheâ€™s giggling at me.â€
â€œSheâ€™s just happy to see you, Tommy. She misses you.â€
I wasnâ€™t sure I believed that. I knew sheâ€™d done something. I would just have to wait until she told me. She always told me, sooner or later.
â€œMom?â€ I asked.
â€œDo we have any pickles-on-a-stick left?â€
â€œDid you check the refrigerator?â€ she asked.
â€œMom! Bonnieâ€™s giggling again.â€
â€œIf it bothers you, youâ€™ll have to ignore her.â€
â€œOh, all right,â€ I said.
I went into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. There was one pickle-on-a-stick left in the jar. But I didnâ€™t care. All of a sudden, I wasnâ€™t hungry anymore.
Inside the refrigerator, right between the pitcher of iced tea and the head of lettuce, was a slug. It wasnâ€™t a regular slug. It wasnâ€™t like the slugs Iâ€™ve seen in Momâ€™s garden. Those are a little bit gross, but theyâ€™re pretty small and harmless.
This one was as big as a wiener dog.
Its body was bright yellow. There were little black stripes that ran down its back. Its glowing green eyes stuck out on long stalks.
It looked at me.
I looked at it.
â€œHi, there,â€ it said.
I didnâ€™t know what to say. Behind me, I heard my sister laugh again and run up the stairs. Did she know about this?
â€œMy name is Vern,â€ said the slug. â€œAre you Tommy Frasier?â€
I nodded. A giant slug in my refrigerator was pretty weird. A giant slug that talked was even weirder. A giant slug that knew my name was so weird I could hardly believe it.
â€œI have traveled halfway across the galaxy to find you,â€ he said. â€œOur planet needs your help.â€
â€œMaybe we should talk someplace else,â€ I said.
My dad hates it when I leave the refrigerator door open too long. He always asks me if Iâ€™m trying to cool down the whole house. I never understand what he means by that. If I was trying to cool down the whole house, I would have opened the freezer door, too.
Vern the slug hopped off of the refrigerator shelf and landed on the floor with a wet plopping sound.
My mom must have heard the noise. â€œAre you all right in there, Tommy?â€ she called.
â€œIâ€™m fine, Mom.â€
â€œIf you made a mess, donâ€™t forget to clean it up.â€
Vern followed me out the back door and onto our porch. There, in the back yard, was a silvery metal spaceship. It was about as big as Momâ€™s mini-van, but it was shaped like a rounded tube with windows down the sides. It rested on three skinny metal legs. A ramp stretched from the middle of the ship down to the ground.
â€œIs that yours?â€ I asked.
â€œYes. Do you think anyone will notice it?â€
â€œYes,â€ I said.
â€œThen we will have to talk fast.â€ Vern slithered up the fence post so we could talk eye-to-eye.
â€œWe need your help,â€ Vern said.
â€œWhy me?â€ I asked.
â€œArenâ€™t you the greatest warrior on your planet?â€
I thought about this for a second.
â€œI donâ€™t think so,â€ I said.
Vern looked confused. I didnâ€™t think a slug could look confused, but he did.
â€œBut I asked a smart person as soon as I arrived,â€ he said. â€œI asked her who the greatest warrior on her planet was, and she said it was you. She didnâ€™t even stop to think about it.â€
I had a feeling I knew who he was talking about. â€œWas this person here in the back yard?â€
â€œWas she short?â€
â€œYes. As a matter of fact, she was.â€
â€œWas she wearing a pink shirt with a sparkly pony on it?â€
Vern gasped. â€œYes! Are you a mind reader, too?â€
â€œThat was my little sister Bonnie. She thinks Iâ€™m the greatest at everything. Mom says itâ€™s just a phase, and I should enjoy it while I can.â€
Vern shook his head. His eyestalks waved back and forth.
â€œDo you mean to say she isnâ€™t incredibly smart?â€
â€œIâ€™m afraid not.â€
â€œButâ€¦ Butâ€¦ She was wearing the most magnificent hat.â€
Vern could tell that I didnâ€™t understand him, so he explained.
â€œOn our planet, whoever has the best-looking hat is in charge of everything. When I saw her hat, I thought she would be full of good ideas.â€
I knew what hat Vern was talking about. My grandma, when she was younger, had been a circus clown. When she retired, she gave Bonnie and me all her old costumes to play with. Bonnie loves the hats. Her favorite is a big purple hat with a floppy brim and feathers all around the sides. Itâ€™s an impressive hat. She wears it all the time. She must have been wearing it when Vernâ€™s spaceship landed.
â€œIn fact, thatâ€™s why we are searching for great warriors. Someone has stolen our Awesome Hat.â€
â€œOur Awesome Hat. Itâ€™s so awesome that anyone who wears it is automatically the ruler of Slug Planet.â€
â€œThat sounds like a weird way to do things,â€ I said.
â€œIf you saw the hat, youâ€™d understand. Itâ€™s that good.â€ Vern sighed. He seemed to ooze down the post a little. â€œBut now itâ€™s been stolen. Thatâ€™s why we need great warriors. We need someone who can get it back for us.â€
â€œI hope you find someone to help you with that,â€ I said.
Vern looked even sadder. â€œYou mean you wonâ€™t do it?â€
â€œIâ€™m not a great warrior. Iâ€™m just a kid.â€
â€œYouâ€™ll do,â€ Vern said. â€œBesides, Iâ€™m running out of time. Weâ€™re all supposed to meet soon with the warriors we found.â€
I looked over at the silver spaceship that stood next to our back fence. I wondered what it would be like to fly off into space and see what was out there.
â€œWhat about my mom and dad? I donâ€™t think theyâ€™d let me go,â€ I said.
Vern bobbed his eyestalks up and down. I learned later that this meant he was thinking hard.
â€œDo you really think theyâ€™d miss you?â€ he asked.
â€œIâ€™m pretty sure they would.â€
â€œLet me go and talk to them.â€ Before I could stop him, Vern had scooted across the deck and into the house.
I froze. Should I yell to Mom that a giant talking yellow slug was on the way? I didnâ€™t think sheâ€™d believe me.
A few minutes later, Vern returned. He was smiling.
â€œItâ€™s all set,â€ he said. â€œYour mom says to be careful.â€
This seemed a little too easy. I opened the screen door and leaned in.
â€œMom!â€ I called.
â€œHave a good time!â€ she yelled back at me.
â€œYou mean I can go?â€
â€œJust be careful. I love you!â€
I closed the door and looked down at Vern. He was smiling up at me and wiggling his slimy tail.
â€œHow did you do that?â€ I asked.
â€œIâ€™ll tell you later. Right now, we have to get going.â€
Inside Vernâ€™s ship, there was barely enough room for me to sit down. Vern slithered into the pilotâ€™s chair and wrapped himself around the steering wheel.
â€œAre you comfortable back there?â€ he asked.
â€œSure,â€ I said.
I was just being polite. This wasnâ€™t comfortable at all. But I was about to take off in a real spaceship flown by a real space alien. I could handle not being comfortable.
â€œHere we go.â€ Vern pressed a big red buttonÂ with his head. I could feel the ship lift off the ground.
I looked out the windows. We were higher than the trees around my house. Then I could see the whole neighborhood. A few seconds later, it seemed like I was looking down at a globe of the world.
We were in space. The stars were bright. There were more of them than I had ever seen. A satellite flew past us as we left the earth behind.
â€œWhat time is it?â€ Vern asked.
I checked my watch. â€œFour-thirty.â€
â€œOh, boy. I was supposed to meet the others at four-thirty. Weâ€™ll have to hurry. Hang on.â€
Vern pushed a lever. The ship rumbled. We were moving a lot faster now. The stars flew past so quickly that I had a hard time seeing them.
Vern bent one eyestalk down to look at a round glowing green screen.
â€œThe rest of the Space Slugs are meeting at a little asteroid up ahead. We should be there pretty soon. I hope they havenâ€™t started without us.â€
A few minutes later, I saw a shiny dot in the distance. As we got closer, it got bigger.
â€œThis should be the asteroid,â€ Vern said.
â€œAre you sure thatâ€™s an asteroid?â€ I asked. It looked like it was made out of metal. In fact, it looked like a spaceship.
It was a lot bigger than our ship. As we got closer, it turned and showed a big black one-eyed skull and crossbones painted on the side.
â€œThat canâ€™t be good,â€ I said.
â€œSpace pirates!â€ Vern shouted. â€œLetâ€™s get out of here!â€
Vern pressed buttons and pulled levers on the control panel, but it was too late. The pirate ship was faster than we were.
It swung around and started to chase us down. A huge door opened in the bottom of the ship and swallowed us up.
It was dark inside the pirate ship. A few distant purple lights showed that we were in some kind of cargo hold. There were a few other ships lying around, like a giant had been playing with them and forgot to put them back.
â€œTommy?â€ Vern asked.
â€œAre you feeling brave?â€
I thought about it. â€œYeah, I guess so.â€
â€œGood. Because Iâ€™m terrified.â€
We heard a metal clanging noise from somewhere close by.
â€œWhat was that?â€ Vern asked. His bright yellow body seemed slimier than usual. I wondered if that meant he was sweating.
â€œIt might not be anything,â€ I said.
â€œOr it might be that!â€ Vern pointed out the window with his eyestalks. A tall metal shape was moving toward us.
â€œItâ€™s a robot,â€ I said.
â€œItâ€™s a space pirate robot!â€ Vern said.
The robot towered over our little ship. It leaned down, picked the ship up, and began to shake it.
It shook hard. A few seconds later, Vern and I had tumbled out and were lying in a heap at the robotâ€™s feet.
I looked up at it. The robot had thick legs and long arms with strong metal hands. Its body was bigger than an ice-cream truck. It had a tiny head with glowing red eyes and a little antenna that stuck up from the top.
It set down Vernâ€™s ship with a clang.
â€œAhoy there,â€ it said to us. â€œFollow me, please. Or else.â€
The robot led us into a different part of the ship. The robotâ€™s antenna scraped along the ceiling as we walked.
â€œDo you think we should run for it?â€ I whispered to Vern.
â€œI donâ€™t think weâ€™d be able to get the ship free. Besides, I canâ€™t run very fast.â€
â€œOh. Sorry. I forgot about that.â€
The robot stopped in front of a metal door. It punched a button and the door slid open.
â€œIn you go. Step lively,â€ the robot said.
This had to be the bridge of the ship. There was a big window, some computer consoles, and a steering wheel that was taller than I was. There was also an alien in a pirate outfit standing before the wheel.
â€œYo-ho there, matey,â€ the pirate captain said to the robot. â€œWhat did you bring me today?â€
The robot saluted. Its big metal hand made a â€œgongâ€ sound when it tapped against its tiny head.
â€œTwo prisoners, Captainâ€ it said.
The pirate captain looked down at us. He had green skin and a head shaped like a light bulb. He wore a bright red sash over his blue striped shirt. He had three legs, but one of them was a peg.
He had a black pirate hat with holes cut out so his antennae could stick through. The hat was trimmed with shiny silver tinsel and covered with rhinestones that glittered in the light.
â€œThatâ€™s not a bad hat,â€ Vern whispered to me. â€œI mean, itâ€™s no Awesome Hat, but itâ€™s not bad at all.â€
â€œWell, me hearties, what should I do with you two?â€ the pirate asked.
â€œI think you should give us our ship back and let us go. We have a very important meeting to get to,â€ Vern said.
The pirate laughed. â€œSorry, lad. Black Jack Jupiter, the high-flying terror of the seven galaxies, never releases a prisoner without a ransom.â€
I checked my pockets. â€œIâ€™ve got a dollar,â€ I said.
â€œNot enough!â€ Black Jack Jupiter called to the robot. â€œCrew-bot! Take them below decks!â€
â€œWhat are you going to do with us?â€ I asked.
â€œIf you canâ€™t pay, then youâ€™ll have to work! If you keep the garbage pits clean and all the machines oiled, then maybe Iâ€™ll let you go in a hundred years or so.â€
â€œWhat?â€ I said.
â€œTommy, we canâ€™t stay here a hundred years,â€ Vern whispered.
I looked around. Aside from what Iâ€™d already seen, there was another door in the corner of the room. It was small and oval-shaped. There was a glowing red sign over it, but I couldnâ€™t read the language.
I nudged Vern. â€œWhat does that sign say?â€ I asked.
â€œIt says â€˜Escape Pod.â€™ Why?â€
â€œHey!â€ the pirate shouted. â€œDonâ€™t even think about it! No one escapes from Black Jack Jupiter! Crew-bot! Get moving!â€
The robot took a clanking step toward us.
â€œHang on,â€ I whispered to Vern.
Before the robot could reach us, I ran forward and jumped at the steering wheel. I grabbed it with both hands and spun it as hard as I could.
The ship rolled to the side. Black Jack Jupiter and Crew-bot slid across the floor. I hung from the steering wheel.
â€œAvast there! Unhand that wheel!â€ Black Jack Jupiter yelled.
Only Vern didnâ€™t have any problems. He stayed in place like he had been glued there.
I pointed to the emergency exit door. â€œVern! Meet me over there!â€
Black Jack Jupiter and the robot were climbing along the control panels to get to me. Vern slithered to the door as fast as he could. When he was just about there, I turned the wheel back.
Everybody tumbled to the floor. I raced toward the door. Even with Vernâ€™s head start, I got to him before he reached the emergency exit. So I picked him up and ran the rest of the way.
I had never carried a giant slug before. He felt like he was made of wet rubber and covered with slime. A lot of slime.
â€œOof!â€ Vern grunted. â€œNot so hard.â€
I loosened my grip on Vern and threw open the emergency door. It led to a little space pod, about the size of a closet. It had a short bench to sit on and a round window to look out of. By the door was a big button with alien writing on it.
â€œIt says, â€˜Push Here and Hold On,â€™â€ Vern said.
So I pushed the button and held on.
There was an enormous roar. For a second, I thought our escape pod was about to blow up. Then the podâ€™s engines pushed us away from the pirate ship and we were free.
â€œYou did it!â€ Vern grunted. The force of the engines pushed us back into our seats. This made it hard to talk.
â€œAre you all right?â€ I asked. Poor Vern was being squashed into the shape of a pancake.
â€œIâ€™m excellent,â€ he said. â€œI knew you were going to be a great warrior! See how you defeated those space pirates?â€
A rusty red planet grew larger and larger in the window.
â€œVern?â€ I asked.
â€œThe rest of the Space Slugs are going to be super impressed when I show up with you.â€
â€œVern?â€ I asked again. The planet was getting bigger.
â€œI wonder where they are. We were supposed to meet them at an asteroid right around here. I hope they didnâ€™t run into the pirate.â€
â€œVern, should we be worried about that?â€ I struggled to raise my arm and point. The planet now filled up the entire window. There was no doubt that we were going to hit it.
Vern shook his eyestalks. â€œWeâ€™re fine. The escape pod should be able to land itself as long at the auto-pilot is on.â€
â€œHow can we tell if itâ€™s on?â€
â€œItâ€™s the green light.â€
I checked the little control panel. â€œI donâ€™t see a green light.â€
â€œIt doesnâ€™t have to be green. Maybe itâ€™s one of those red ones.â€
â€œYou donâ€™t know?â€
Outside, the edges of the window were starting to glow red. We had entered the planetâ€™s atmosphere. In a few minutes, we would either land or we would crash.