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.
“Hi, Mom!” I called as I opened the front door.
“Hello, Tommy!” 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. She’s three. If you have a little sister, you know what that means.
“Mom, can I get a snack?”
“Sure, Tommy, but just a small one,” Mom said. “Dad’s bringing home dinner from the Jade Garden.”
The Jade Garden? Yum. Fried wontons were my favorite food in the whole world.
“Tommy!” This was Bonnie. She leaned around a corner and waved at me. I could tell that she had done something she didn’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 hadn’t put the little dresses on them this time.
“Hi, Bonnie,” I said. “What did you do?”
“It’s a surprise!” Bonnie giggled and ran off.
“What did Bonnie do?”
“I don’t think your sister did anything,” Mom said. “Why do you ask?”
“She’s giggling at me.”
“She’s just happy to see you, Tommy. She misses you.”
I wasn’t sure I believed that. I knew she’d done something. I would just have to wait until she told me. She always told me, sooner or later.
“Mom?” I asked.
“Do we have any pickles-on-a-stick left?”
“Did you check the refrigerator?” she asked.
“Mom! Bonnie’s giggling again.”
“If it bothers you, you’ll have to ignore her.”
“Oh, all right,” I said.
I went into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. There was one pickle-on-a-stick left in the jar. But I didn’t care. All of a sudden, I wasn’t hungry anymore.
Inside the refrigerator, right between the pitcher of iced tea and the head of lettuce, was a slug. It wasn’t a regular slug. It wasn’t like the slugs I’ve seen in Mom’s garden. Those are a little bit gross, but they’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.
“Hi, there,” it said.
I didn’t know what to say. Behind me, I heard my sister laugh again and run up the stairs. Did she know about this?
“My name is Vern,” said the slug. “Are you Tommy Frasier?”
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.
“I have traveled halfway across the galaxy to find you,” he said. “Our planet needs your help.”
“Maybe we should talk someplace else,” I said.
My dad hates it when I leave the refrigerator door open too long. He always asks me if I’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. “Are you all right in there, Tommy?” she called.
“I’m fine, Mom.”
“If you made a mess, don’t forget to clean it up.”
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 Mom’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.
“Is that yours?” I asked.
“Yes. Do you think anyone will notice it?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Then we will have to talk fast.” Vern slithered up the fence post so we could talk eye-to-eye.
“We need your help,” Vern said.
“Why me?” I asked.
“Aren’t you the greatest warrior on your planet?”
I thought about this for a second.
“I don’t think so,” I said.
Vern looked confused. I didn’t think a slug could look confused, but he did.
“But I asked a smart person as soon as I arrived,” he said. “I asked her who the greatest warrior on her planet was, and she said it was you. She didn’t even stop to think about it.”
I had a feeling I knew who he was talking about. “Was this person here in the back yard?”
“Was she short?”
“Yes. As a matter of fact, she was.”
“Was she wearing a pink shirt with a sparkly pony on it?”
Vern gasped. “Yes! Are you a mind reader, too?”
“That was my little sister Bonnie. She thinks I’m the greatest at everything. Mom says it’s just a phase, and I should enjoy it while I can.”
Vern shook his head. His eyestalks waved back and forth.
“Do you mean to say she isn’t incredibly smart?”
“I’m afraid not.”
“But… But… She was wearing the most magnificent hat.”
Vern could tell that I didn’t understand him, so he explained.
“On 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.”
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. It’s an impressive hat. She wears it all the time. She must have been wearing it when Vern’s spaceship landed.
“In fact, that’s why we are searching for great warriors. Someone has stolen our Awesome Hat.”
“Our Awesome Hat. It’s so awesome that anyone who wears it is automatically the ruler of Slug Planet.”
“That sounds like a weird way to do things,” I said.
“If you saw the hat, you’d understand. It’s that good.” Vern sighed. He seemed to ooze down the post a little. “But now it’s been stolen. That’s why we need great warriors. We need someone who can get it back for us.”
“I hope you find someone to help you with that,” I said.
Vern looked even sadder. “You mean you won’t do it?”
“I’m not a great warrior. I’m just a kid.”
“You’ll do,” Vern said. “Besides, I’m running out of time. We’re all supposed to meet soon with the warriors we found.”
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.
“What about my mom and dad? I don’t think they’d let me go,” I said.
Vern bobbed his eyestalks up and down. I learned later that this meant he was thinking hard.
“Do you really think they’d miss you?” he asked.
“I’m pretty sure they would.”
“Let me go and talk to them.” 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 didn’t think she’d believe me.
A few minutes later, Vern returned. He was smiling.
“It’s all set,” he said. “Your mom says to be careful.”
This seemed a little too easy. I opened the screen door and leaned in.
“Mom!” I called.
“Have a good time!” she yelled back at me.
“You mean I can go?”
“Just be careful. I love you!”
I closed the door and looked down at Vern. He was smiling up at me and wiggling his slimy tail.
“How did you do that?” I asked.
“I’ll tell you later. Right now, we have to get going.”
Inside Vern’s ship, there was barely enough room for me to sit down. Vern slithered into the pilot’s chair and wrapped himself around the steering wheel.
“Are you comfortable back there?” he asked.
“Sure,” I said.
I was just being polite. This wasn’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.
“Here we go.” Vern pressed a big red button 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.
“What time is it?” Vern asked.
I checked my watch. “Four-thirty.”
“Oh, boy. I was supposed to meet the others at four-thirty. We’ll have to hurry. Hang on.”
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.
“The rest of the Space Slugs are meeting at a little asteroid up ahead. We should be there pretty soon. I hope they haven’t started without us.”
A few minutes later, I saw a shiny dot in the distance. As we got closer, it got bigger.
“This should be the asteroid,” Vern said.
“Are you sure that’s an asteroid?” 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.
“That can’t be good,” I said.
“Space pirates!” Vern shouted. “Let’s get out of here!”
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.
“Tommy?” Vern asked.
“Are you feeling brave?”
I thought about it. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“Good. Because I’m terrified.”
We heard a metal clanging noise from somewhere close by.
“What was that?” Vern asked. His bright yellow body seemed slimier than usual. I wondered if that meant he was sweating.
“It might not be anything,” I said.
“Or it might be that!” Vern pointed out the window with his eyestalks. A tall metal shape was moving toward us.
“It’s a robot,” I said.
“It’s a space pirate robot!” 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 robot’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 Vern’s ship with a clang.
“Ahoy there,” it said to us. “Follow me, please. Or else.”
The robot led us into a different part of the ship. The robot’s antenna scraped along the ceiling as we walked.
“Do you think we should run for it?” I whispered to Vern.
“I don’t think we’d be able to get the ship free. Besides, I can’t run very fast.”
“Oh. Sorry. I forgot about that.”
The robot stopped in front of a metal door. It punched a button and the door slid open.
“In you go. Step lively,” 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.
“Yo-ho there, matey,” the pirate captain said to the robot. “What did you bring me today?”
The robot saluted. Its big metal hand made a “gong” sound when it tapped against its tiny head.
“Two prisoners, Captain” 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.
“That’s not a bad hat,” Vern whispered to me. “I mean, it’s no Awesome Hat, but it’s not bad at all.”
“Well, me hearties, what should I do with you two?” the pirate asked.
“I think you should give us our ship back and let us go. We have a very important meeting to get to,” Vern said.
The pirate laughed. “Sorry, lad. Black Jack Jupiter, the high-flying terror of the seven galaxies, never releases a prisoner without a ransom.”
I checked my pockets. “I’ve got a dollar,” I said.
“Not enough!” Black Jack Jupiter called to the robot. “Crew-bot! Take them below decks!”
“What are you going to do with us?” I asked.
“If you can’t pay, then you’ll have to work! If you keep the garbage pits clean and all the machines oiled, then maybe I’ll let you go in a hundred years or so.”
“What?” I said.
“Tommy, we can’t stay here a hundred years,” Vern whispered.
I looked around. Aside from what I’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 couldn’t read the language.
I nudged Vern. “What does that sign say?” I asked.
“It says ‘Escape Pod.’ Why?”
“Hey!” the pirate shouted. “Don’t even think about it! No one escapes from Black Jack Jupiter! Crew-bot! Get moving!”
The robot took a clanking step toward us.
“Hang on,” 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.
“Avast there! Unhand that wheel!” Black Jack Jupiter yelled.
Only Vern didn’t have any problems. He stayed in place like he had been glued there.
I pointed to the emergency exit door. “Vern! Meet me over there!”
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 Vern’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.
“Oof!” Vern grunted. “Not so hard.”
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.
“It says, ‘Push Here and Hold On,’” 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 pod’s engines pushed us away from the pirate ship and we were free.
“You did it!” Vern grunted. The force of the engines pushed us back into our seats. This made it hard to talk.
“Are you all right?” I asked. Poor Vern was being squashed into the shape of a pancake.
“I’m excellent,” he said. “I knew you were going to be a great warrior! See how you defeated those space pirates?”
A rusty red planet grew larger and larger in the window.
“Vern?” I asked.
“The rest of the Space Slugs are going to be super impressed when I show up with you.”
“Vern?” I asked again. The planet was getting bigger.
“I wonder where they are. We were supposed to meet them at an asteroid right around here. I hope they didn’t run into the pirate.”
“Vern, should we be worried about that?” 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. “We’re fine. The escape pod should be able to land itself as long at the auto-pilot is on.”
“How can we tell if it’s on?”
“It’s the green light.”
I checked the little control panel. “I don’t see a green light.”
“It doesn’t have to be green. Maybe it’s one of those red ones.”
“You don’t know?”
Outside, the edges of the window were starting to glow red. We had entered the planet’s atmosphere. In a few minutes, we would either land or we would crash.