Release Date: July 1 2005 | Series: My Teacher Books (Book 2)
Brains are sizzling in the seventh grade...
The first day of seventh grade is probably the worst day of Duncan Dougal's life. He knows that things are really bad when he finds an alien's hand in a Dumpster and then gets plugged into an alien brain fryer! Can Duncan find out which of the four new teachers in his school is an alien before his brains get fried to a pulp -- or before the aliens try to fry the whole planet?
Bruce Coville was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1950. Before getting published he earned his living as a toymaker, a gravedigger, a cookware salesman, an assembly line worker, and finally as an elementary school teacher. Bruce has published more than 100 books, which have appeared in over a dozen countries around the world and sold more than 16 million copies. Among his most popular titles are My Teacher Is an Alien, Into the Land of the Unicorns, and The Monster’s Ring. In 2001 he founded Full Cast Audio, an audiobook company dedicated to creating unabridged, full cast recordings of the best in children’s and young adult literature. Bruce lives in Syracuse with his wife, Katherine, who has illustrated many of his books. For more information about Bruce, check out BruceCoville.com.
I was standing in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, when I looked up and saw a horrible green face in the mirror.
“Hey, Duncan,” rasped a voice from behind me, “what time is it?”
A wave of terror washed over me. “Go away!” I yelled, spattering toothpaste foam across the mirror.
“Wrong answer!” shouted the face. “It’s not go-away time, it’s bopping time!”
A strong arm wrapped around my neck. “Help!” I screamed. “Aliens!” But even as I was screaming, I saw in the mirror that the arm holding me was a strong human arm.
“Patrick!” I shouted, mad now instead of terrified. “Come on, Patrick, cut it ow!”
I said “OW!” instead of “out” because Patrick had just landed a major noogie on my skull. I would tell you why my big brother was beating on me if I could, but I can’t, because I don’t know. He just does that sometimes. I do it to other people. You know how it is: you get upset, things build up inside you, and suddenly you BOP! someone.
Or maybe you don’t. But that’s how things work in our family.
Patrick gave me another noogie.
“You creep!” I screamed, trying to wriggle out of his grip. “Get out of here!”
“Quiet up there!” shouted our father.
I would have yelled for him to make Patrick leave me alone, but it wouldn’t do any good. Dad’s theory is that life is rough, and I might as well get used to it. That may be true, but I’ve noticed that when I hit kids in school none of the teachers say, “Why, Duncan, what a good lesson you’ve just given little Jimmy in the fact that life is rough.” What they usually say is, “Look, you little jerk, I’ve had about enough of your antics. One more stunt like that and you’re heading straight to the principal’s office!” Or if they’re feeling particularly nice they might say, “Now, Duncan, that’s not how we solve our problems, is it?”
It is in our family. What planet are these teachers from?
“What planet are they from?”—a good question, considering what had been going on around our town.
See, things had been pretty tense in Kennituck Falls since last spring, when this alien named Broxholm kidnapped weird Peter Thompson and took him off into space. Even though Broxholm was gone, people were still frightened—as if they thought there were aliens still lurking around, waiting to grab people.
With the grown-ups that scared, you can be sure kids around here had about the worst summer ever, mostly because parents were afraid to let their little darlings out of the house. It seemed like the town motto was, “I don’t want you disappearing like that Peter Thompson.” (Well, my parents didn’t say that. But most of the others did.) I bet a hundred years from now people in this town will still be telling their kids that if they don’t behave an alien boogey man will get them.
To make things worse, Peter Thompson’s father—who didn’t really give a poop about Peter when he was here—had decided that he really missed his son.
Mr. Thompson had come up to me in the park one day. “You know where he is, don’t you?” he said. “You know where they took my boy.”
I had stared at him for a moment. Mr. Thompson was skinnier than he used to be, and there were dark circles under his eyes. Then I remembered what Peter had said when he let me stay in his house to hide from the alien: “Don’t worry about my father. He won’t mind. He won’t even know!”
It had been true. Mr. Thompson was almost never there, and when he was, he didn’t pay any attention to Peter at all.
So I had looked at him, all skinny and sad, and said, “What do you care where he is?” Then I ran away because I was afraid he was going to hit me. I suppose it was a pretty rotten thing for me to say, but I had a feeling that the main reason Mr. Thompson was so upset was that everyone else thought he should be.
To tell you the truth, I kind of missed old Peter myself. Everyone used to think I hated him. That wasn’t true. I just picked on him because I didn’t know what else to do with him.
Well, maybe I did hate him a little, because he was so smart and I was so dumb. Except I wasn’t really dumb. I just thought I was. Of course, my family and my teachers had given me a lot of help in coming to that conclusion.
I was feeling plenty dumb when I got to school that morning. First of all, I was late because of the fight with Patrick. Second, my head hurt where my father had whacked me afterward. (At least he whacked Pat, too. He always treated us both the same way when it came to that.) Third, I couldn’t find my classes, so I kept walking in on things that were already in session.
The reason I couldn’t find my classes was that it was the first day of school, and I had never been in the building before.
The reason I had never been in the building was that I had played hookey the day we had our junior high orientation tour. I’d figured there was no point in going, since I hadn’t expected to pass the sixth grade. (I think the only reason I did pass, which was kind of a shock, was that after what happened with the alien the school decided to pass our whole class out of sympathy or something.)
Well, the first day in a new school is hard enough if you get there on time and have some idea of what’s going on. You don’t really need things like walking in late and having some big, tall man with black hair and eyes like coal grab your arm and say, “Not off to a very good start, are we, Mr. Dougal?”
“Aaaahh!” I shouted. “Leave me alone!”
That seemed to startle the man. (Actually, it startled me, too. But the way he grabbed me reminded me of the first time I had met Broxholm, when he was pretending to be a substitute teacher and stopped me from beating up on Peter Thompson.)
“Stop that!” said the man, giving me a shake.
I stopped, mostly because I had recognized him. He was the assistant principal. His name was Manuel Ketchum, and he had come to work at our school last spring, after the old assistant principal had a nervous breakdown. According to my brother Patrick, Mr. Ketchum was a real beast. Most kids called him “the Mancatcher” when he wasn’t around.
I guess the Mancatcher must have heard of me, too.
“I’ve been warned to keep an eye on you, Mr. Dougal,” he said. “I can see why already.”
He asked me for an excuse for being late, which I didn’t have. Then he gave me a lecture about punctuality and responsibility, which made me even later for where I was trying to go.
I had to stick my head into three rooms before I found the one where I belonged. Each time I did, I could hear kids snickering when I left. That really fried me. I hate it when people laugh at me.
It was almost as bad when I finally did find the right room. It was home economics class! I couldn’t believe they had scheduled me for home economics.
Fortunately the teacher was a real babe. And she smiled when she saw me come in! That was the first nice thing that had happened all day.
“Are you Duncan Dougal?” she asked in a kindly voice. When I nodded she smiled again and said, “My name is Miss Karpou. I’m glad you finally made it.”
“She’ll change her mind once she gets to know him,” someone whispered.
The people who heard it started to laugh. I started to blush. If I could have figured out who said it, I would have whapped the jerk.
I did notice it was kind of nervous laughter. In fact, the whole seventh grade seemed a little twitchy that day. Kids are always a little nervous the first day of school, of course. But this was something more. I think being back in school had everyone thinking about the alien again.
Ms. Karpou went back to what she was talking about, which was how to use the equipment without hurting ourselves. Except she wasn’t very good at it, because she managed to burn herself almost immediately.
“Ouch!” she cried. She popped her finger into her mouth, then spun around and bent over the counter. For a minute I was afraid she was going to cry. Instead, she turned and ran out of the room.
I felt bad. Miss Karpou was young, she was pretty, and she had been nice to me. I didn’t want her to be sad.
The class got a little rowdy then, and pretty soon the Mancatcher came in to shut us up.
Naturally, he blamed everything on me.
As if things weren’t bad enough already, at lunchtime this huge eighth grader named Orville Plumber (which is probably half his problem anyway) came up to my table and said, “Hey, kid—you Duncan Dougal?”
I looked up and said, “What about it?”
Orville smiled, a big, nasty, gap-toothed smile, and said, “I’m gonna turn you into dog meat.”
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I was standing in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, when I looked up and saw horrible green face in the mirror. Read the first page
In the first sequel to his bestselling MY TEACHER IS AN ALIEN, Bruce Coville takes us back to the town of Kennituck Falls, home of Susan Simmons, Duncon Dougal, and the recently abducted (!!)) Peter Thompson. This time, however, there's a new alien in town who is even more heinous in appearance than Broxholm and with a strange new pet named Poot.
In the first novel, an alien named Broxholm takes over one of the local middle-school classrooms as a substitute teacher, with the expressed intention of capturing five children (the smartest kid, the dumbest kid, and the three most average kids) to take back to his alien space ship for further study. In the first novel Broxholm is painted as quite the enemy, and it is with cheering we root for Susan to defeat this evil, kidnapping alien.
As the first novel is a standalone book first and foremost (kind of like THE HOBBIT in that Coville had no real sequel in mind when he wrote it), it is very self-contained and can be read on its own without reading the other three. Starting with this sequel, Coville begins building a storyline that will not be fully resolved until the fourth installment in the series, MY TEACHER FLUNKED THE PLANET.
For this installment, a new alien has come to town, but the name of Kreeblim. Unlike Broxholm, who is harsh and rather strict, Kreeblim has a much sweeter disposition, and in personality much the opposite to Broxholm. Her mission is similar to Broxholm; conduct teaching experiments on the human race, to study how we learn. Her mission was supposed to end when Broxholm's did, but due to his sudden departure with Peter Thompson at the end of the first book, she is left to her own devices for a while, and decides to conduct some further field research by unleashing one of her student's unrealised brain potential.
Enter Duncan Dougal. The common dime-a-dozen school bully from the first novel, this installment is told totally from his POV. Coville gets into his head a lot, and helps young readers understand what made him the way he is through his home environment, and how his family life shapes his social interactions with the other characters. Duncan, the traditionally stupid bully, has a change of heart when Kreeblim uses a device in class that enables him to begin unlocking the full potential of his brain. Ultimately, this has unforeseen consequences which Kreeblim uses to contact her colleagues to send a ship to pick her up.
There's quite a few more details along the way, including the introduction of Kreeblim's bet Poot, a gelatin like animal who can be split into several new pieces (asexual reproduction) and figures prominently in both this and the last book. There is also a skin glove that Duncan finds that helps him realise a new alien is in town. (Of course, you can't help but wonder why Duncan, who becomes a genius by the end of the book, couldn't put two and two together and realise who the identity of the alien is when it's pretty obvious to the reader for most of the book. Even Kreeblim comments on this oversight of Duncan). Coville's main focus throughout the book is the awesome unrealised potential of the human brain, which comes into prominent display in the last book as well.
At the end of the novel, Peter Thompson arrives, telling Susan and Duncan there is the Earth is in serious intergalactic trouble, and is the cause of much turmoil. The three children are whisked off into outer space to be briefed by what is the rough equivalent of the United Nations for the Galaxy (though the more appropriate term would be United Planets or United Solar Systems or United Star Systems, something along those lines), and so the stage is set for the events in MY TEACHER FLUNKED THE PLANET.
One of the biggest changes from the previous novel is the readers' and characters' perceptions of the aliens. In the previous book, Coville painted Broxholm as the villain and leaves it at that. It is only in the three sequels do we learn that Broxholm and Kreeblim (who is actually Broxholm's superior), are actually on an anthropological mission on earth to investigate what the Intergalactic League has labeled "The Earth Question." And what is that question? Why are people so full of pain and rage and destroy themselves. Also, why do they have the most amazing brain in the entire known galaxy and use so little of it.
Throughout the book, Coville is clearly addressing learning issues, and helps his target audience of children relate to learning as a positive experience, as well as address the "human condition" that is everybody's problem. He also helps children relate too and further understand what makes Duncan a bully, and with this character he allows the children to build sympathy with a previously unsympathetic character.
Overall, this is a good novel for middle-schoolers, and an enjoyable story for adults as well. I read [(and reread)] the books when I was growing up numerous times, and have returned to them periodically in adulthood. The series is well-written enough that adults reading will find the books rather enjoyable, quick reads. But be warned. You can read the first one as a stand alone work. However, starting with this one, Coville leaves you hanging at the end, and you need to read the next two installments to get finish the full story arc. And the story arc is good enough that I encourage you to keep reading.Read more ›
This sequel to Bruce Coville's popular My Teacher is an Alien reunites us with Susan Smith, the protagonist and narrator of the first book, Peter Thompson, her brainy science fiction-loving friend, and Duncan Dougal, class bully and somewhat questionable ally in the previous adventure involving the kids' sixth grade teacher being replaced by a big green alien in disguise. Duncan was an important yet secondary character in the first book, but he takes center stage in My Teacher Fried My Brains. The story itself isn't as exciting as that of its predecessor, but I love the angle that Coville took in returning to this world of adventure. There is a definite psychological component to this story, one providing insight into why Duncan behaves in such a disruptive matter - there is a real, pretty nice person in there just dying to get out. Duncan now becomes a sympathetic character from the very first page, as we get a good look at his home life and see how this translates into his own behavior around other kids. It bothers Duncan to no end to be unable to control his mouth and (sometimes) fists; even when he is doing something stupid that will just get him into trouble, he is inwardly berating himself as he is doing it. The one thing that Duncan hates more than anything in the world is to be laughed at; this is a feeling all children as well as adults know a little something about, making Duncan a character that anyone can connect to in some way. The kids are now in seventh grade, and Duncan's first day in a new school building is a rough one; as always, he finds trouble, and this time trouble reaches back and finds him as well. He makes a startling discovery - a discarded human hand which, upon closer inspection, turns out to be a fake human hand. That can only mean one thing: there is another alien at the school. Like Susan in the first book, Duncan does not know what to do. He knows no one will believe him, not even his classmates; you would think the adults in town might be of some help, but they have all started pretending that the alien business of last spring didn't actually happen. Duncan soon thinks he has found the answer to his problems. After taking part in a demonstration of static electricity, one in which a machine zapped his brain, he began to feel smarter all of a sudden; he soon decides to sneak in to the lab and give himself additional brain-frying treatments. Despite all of his new-found intelligence, though, he has little success in figuring out who the other alien in school is. The ensuing action is not bad, plus we meet a memorable and mysterious alien pet called a poot, but a few aspects of this story resemble pretty closely the strange events chronicled in Coville's previous book, My Teacher is an Alien. The manner of Peter's "return" is especially weak, in my opinion. If you want to read this book, I definitely encourage you to buy all four books in the series. My Teacher Fried My Brains has a cliffhanger kind of ending that leaves a great deal unresolved. It's a fun ride with great friends, though, so most young people who read this book will surely want to dive right in to My Teacher Glows in the Dark to see what happens next.Read more ›
This has to be one of my favorite Coville books ever--and since I've collected about 50, that's saying something. This story continues where MY TEACHER IS AN ALIEN left off, and lets you know the story behind Duncan Dougal (the class bully). His life is pretty rough, seventh grade is going pretty badly, and he only has one nice teacher--Miss Karpou. When he finds out that one of the teachers at the school IS an alien and no one believes him, Duncan feels that he has to prove there's a threat. He ends up getting his brain *fried* to increase its brain power--and meets the alien's pet, Poot. Poot has to be one of the most appealing sidekick-pets ever. A telepathic, green-glowing, shape-shifting slug, Poot instantly takes a liking to Duncan. I don't want to reveal the ending, suffice to say that I highly recommend this book!
My Teacher Fried My Brains By Bruce Colville This book is about aliens who do something about Earth. They think we're poison! There is a boy named Duncan and he always gets into trouble. He zapped his brain and got smarter somehow, and meets Poot, a purple glowing slug. I like this book because you never know what is going to happen next. Once Duncan got sucked into an alien ship. I didn't know what was going to happen to him. I think the author wrote this book to make people wonder if there are aliens.