About the Author

Graham Ross

Look! Look what I've done!! The words of an eight year old as he holds up the drawing of a vibrant red fire engine. Oh Graham, that's wonderful.

Really? Oh this is good. You draw a picture and you get a reaction. I could get into this! And so it began. The seed was planted, further watered by bedtime rituals of propping pillows up against his bedroom wall getting into bed to get lost in a family member's reading of The Wind in the Willows.

An unintended lesson learned through those readings that our intrepid illustrator still calls upon in his illustration work is that the viewer will take different things from the illustration and he will add elements to the illustration that may go over some heads, but others will catch them and smile. There's always something to look at.

A graduate of the illustration program at Sheridan College in Ontario, Graham thought he would stick around the big smoke and in addition to his work as a designer at Canadian publisher McClelland & Stewart, he would also cultivate his Flock of Seagulls hair style and work on his dance floor moves. But alas soon follicles started to recede and shoulder pads deflated, so Graham moved back to his hometown of Ottawa, Ontario to contemplate his next career move.

It was in Ottawa that Graham began his freelance illustration and graphic design career. A career that has spawned illustrations for such publishers as Orca Book Publishers, Scholastic Canada, and Meadowside Books of the United Kingdom, as well as numerous Canadian government agencies and private design firms.

He lives in Merrickville, Ontario with a circus star family: his juggling wife, a helldriver daughter, a canine cannonball, and a fire breathing cat.

Books by this Author
Alphabetter

Alphabetter

by Dan Bar-el
illustrated by Graham Ross
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback Hardcover
More Info
Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur 4 Books in 1!

Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur 4 Books in 1!

Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur; Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur and the Stink Spectacular; Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur and the Cat-Dog Translator; Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur and the Best Test
by Luke Sharpe
illustrated by Graham Ross
edition:Hardcover
More Info
Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur and the Cat-Dog Translator
Excerpt

Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur and the Cat-Dog Translator
A Boy and His Dog
MY NAME IS BILLY SURE. I’m an inventor. I’m also the CEO of my very own company: SURE THINGS, INC. You might have heard of our products. You might even have some of them.

The ALL BALL that changes into different sports balls with the touch of a button? That’s us. The SIBLING SILENCER that, well, silences siblings? Yep, us too. DISAPPEARING REAPPEARING MAKEUP and STINK SPECTACULAR? Well, you get the picture. Sure Things, Inc. has had one success after another.


The best part of being in business is my business partner. Get it? Manny Reyes is my best friend and Chief Financial Officer (CFO for short), which is a fancy way of saying that he takes care of money while I create inventions. Manny’s a genius when it comes to marketing, numbers, planning, selling, advertising, computers. . . .

I could go on. But basically, I invent our products and Manny figures out how to make them into hits. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but in a nutshell, that’s our story.

It’s a Tuesday evening. I’m home after a full day at school, followed by a full day at work. It’s not easy juggling two lives.

My typical day is: Get up (I suppose you could have guessed that part, right?); shower; go to school; come home and pick up my dog, Philo; then go with Philo to the World Headquarters of Sure Things, Inc. (also known as Manny’s garage). Then I come home, eat dinner, do my homework, maybe read a book or watch TV, and then go to sleep.

And you thought you were busy with soccer and school plays and—well, I guess you’re busy too. I don’t mean to complain—it’s just that sometimes all this gets a bit overwhelming. That’s when I have to remember how much I enjoy inventing stuff.

At this moment, I’m in the “finished school, finished work, finished dinner, finished homework” portion of my day. I’m hanging out in the living room playing with Philo.

“You want this, boy?” I ask, leaning forward in my seat, waving Philo’s favorite chew toy at him. It’s a thick rope made up of colored strands all woven together. Or at least they used to be woven together. Months of chewing and pulling have taken their toll.

Philo jumps up from his doggy bed on the other side of the room, dashes over to where I’m sitting, and grabs one end of the toy in his teeth.


I yank my end back. Philo bares his teeth and growls, a low growl that’s as much a moan or a whine as a true growl.

“Who’s a FIERCE BEAST?” I ask, moving the toy—and Philo’s head along with it—from side to side.

Philo tugs hard, pulling me from my chair. I tumble to the rug and start laughing. Letting go of my end of the toy, I rub Philo’s belly. This always makes him go a little crazy.

I roll over, and then Philo jumps on top of me. We tumble across the room, me laughing, Philo growling and barking.

“What’s going on down there?!” shouts a voice from upstairs. “Some of us have homework to do, y’know!”

That would be Emily, my sister. Last week, Emily only spoke in a British accent. Before that, she only wore black. Who knows what she’ll be into next?

“Just playing with Philo,” I call back up the stairs.

“Well, do it quietly!” she screams down.

I pick up Philo’s chew toy and hold it over my head.

“Do you want this, boy?” I say in an excited whisper, waving the colorful, floppy rope back and forth.

Philo’s head follows the moving rope, as if he were watching a Ping-Pong match.

“Ready?” I ask.

Philo backs up a few steps.

“Go get it!” I shout, tossing the rope over his head.

Philo turns and dashes after the rope. He snatches it up in his mouth, then trots contentedly back toward me, dropping it at my feet.

“Again?” I ask.

“RUUFFF!” he replies.

Sometimes I can almost understand what Philo is saying.

I pick up the rope and waggle it back and forth, then fling it past him.

This time Philo turns his head casually and watches the rope zoom by, then he turns back to look at me.

So much for understanding what Philo says.

“I thought you wanted to play, boy?” I say.

Philo stares at me like he’s never seen me before.

“Go get it!” I say again.

Philo continues staring.

Oh well. I walk to the other side of the room, pick up the toy, and come back.

“One more time.” I toss the rope back over Philo’s head. It bounces a couple of times, then disappears into the dining room.

This time Philo turns and chases after it. He speeds from the living room into the dining room. And then doesn’t come back.

“Get the toy, Philo!” I shout.

No Philo. No toy.

“Bring me the toy, Philo!” I yell again.

“Go get the stupid toy yourself!” Emily shouts from upstairs.

She totally does not get the point of this game.

But she may be right. I’m beginning to wonder where Philo went. As I step from the living room into the dining room, I find the chew toy sitting on the floor. Looking up, I see that Philo is all the way on the other side of the room.

“It’s right here, boy,” I say, pointing down at the toy.

Philo paces back and forth across the floor on the far side of the dining room. He stops, sniffs under some furniture, then turns and walks back to the other side of the room, where he repeats the sniffing, then the pacing, then the sniffing, and on and on.

As he paces and sniffs, Philo lets out a series of low moans and short yelps.

“URRRR . . . YIP-YIP!” he says.

“What is it, boy?” I ask.

“URRRR . . . YIP-YIP!” he repeats.

Now I really wish I could understand what Philo is saying. In fact, there have been many times when I’ve wished I could understand him. Things would be so much easier. I could just give him what he wants and he’d be happy. And then I wouldn’t spend so much time wondering what he’s trying to say.

And that’s when it hits me. I know what Sure Things, Inc.’s next product should be! I will make a translator for dogs!

This isn’t the first time this invention idea has come up. The first time I ever thought of it, I had just discovered the blueprints for the Sibling Silencer on my desk, but I didn’t know where they had come from. Let me explain. . . .

You see, I always have trouble figuring out how to make my inventions work . . . at least when I’m awake. When I finally give up and go to sleep, the completed blueprints MAGICALLY appear on my desk the next morning.

You may be wondering who so kindly and quietly draws the blueprints for me in the middle of the night. I wondered the same thing at first. It turns out that I do! In my sleep! Here’s how we found out.

My first invention, the All Ball, was a hit, but I didn’t know where the working blueprints came from. They had appeared on my desk one morning, and I didn’t recognize the handwriting. So when I was struggling to come up with the working blueprints for Sure Things, Inc.’s next invention, the Sibling Silencer, Manny rigged an alarm system so that whoever was sneaking into my room to leave the blueprints would get caught. Except the only one who tripped the alarm was Philo. When he did, I discovered new blueprints on my desk, which meant that Philo saw who put them there.

What I didn’t know was that Manny also set up a webcam and watched me work on the blueprints in my sleep. That’s right. Some people talk in their sleep; some people walk in their sleep; but me, I invent things in my sleep!

But before I knew that, I remember wishing at that moment for a device that could translate what Philo was saying through his barks. And that’s when the idea for the DOG TRANSLATOR first came into my head.

I have to tell Manny about this! The time has arrived for the Dog Translator!

I start to head up to my room to send Manny an e-mail, when I hear Philo scraping his paw against the floor. Turning back, I see him reach under a cabinet and drag out a doggy treat. A dust-covered, stale treat.

That thing must have been under there for weeks! Philo happily munches away.

Yuck! Dogs can be really gross sometimes.

See, if I had a Dog Translator, Philo could have just told me he wanted a treat. Of course, Philo doesn’t need a translator for that. Like most dogs, he always wants a treat!


I dash up the stairs. I have to pass Emily’s room in order to get to mine.

“What? You’re done making noise downstairs, so you decided to come here and make noise upstairs?” she asks in her usual warm, loving tone.

“The lightbulb just went off!” I say, pointing to my head, hardly able to contain my excitement.


Emily shrugs without looking up from her desk. “So ask Dad to replace it, genius.”

“No, I mean I just came up with the idea for my next invention,” I say, smiling.

“Uh-huh,” she replies, tapping away on her phone, her thumbs blazing. “I’ll alert the media.”

“Actually, that’s Manny’s job,” I point out.

Emily just shakes her head and rolls her eyes.

“Oh, you were being sarcastic, right?”

With Emily, sometimes it’s hard to tell.

I head into my room, flip open my laptop, and shoot off a quick e-mail to Manny.

Hey, Manny.

I just came up with an idea for Sure Things, Inc.’s next invention!

Billy

A few seconds later I get a reply. And this is so Manny:

Great! I’ve got the marketing strategy all planned!

I write back:

But wait, you don’t even know what the invention is!

Manny writes back:

Right, right. Whatcha got?

I write back:

The Dog Translator!

I hold my breath waiting for a reply. A few seconds later it comes:

LOVE IT! We’ll talk tomorrow.

That’s my partner!

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Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur and the No-Trouble Bubble
Excerpt

Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur and the No-Trouble Bubble
The Next “Next Big Thing”
MY NAME IS Billy Sure. I’m an inventor. My company, SURE THINGS, INC., has come out with all kinds of stuff, ranging from the ALL BALL—our first product which is a ball that can transform into different kinds of sports balls—to our latest product, GROSS-TO-GOOD POWDER. It makes anything—and I mean anything, even frog legs wrapped in stinky cheese—taste good.

Okay, full disclosure. Credit for a lot of the development for the Gross-to-Good Powder goes to my big sister, Emily. She’s fourteen. When Sure Things, Inc. began, few people could have shown less interest than Emily did, either in me or in my activities, even when those activities included starting a SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS at age twelve.

But something has started to change between Emily and me recently. Oh, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like a “we’ve become best buds, let’s hang out, you’re my favorite person in the world” kind of change. It’s more like an “I no longer wish you lived on another planet” kind of change.


Let me explain. I go to Fillmore Middle School, where I’m in seventh grade. I’m also the president of the Fillmore Inventors Club. I help students with ideas for inventions. It adds one more thing to my ridiculously busy life—school, running a business, homework, spending time with my dad and my dog, Philo—you get the idea. But with this club, I really have helped kids develop their ideas, and even more importantly, have helped to give them a place where they feel they belong.

But I’m getting off topic, which is something I do a lot!

Not long ago, the inventors club had been trying—unsuccessfully—to come up with a way to make spinach taste good. Then Emily showed up unexpectedly at a club meeting with a powder she had created that actually worked. Sprinkle a little of Emily’s powder on your spinach, and spinach is no longer to be feared! But then we had the idea to expand the powder’s powers. Together, Emily, Manny, and I tweaked her invention to make it work so that everything you sprinkle it on tastes good.


But who’s Manny, you might ask?

Manny’s my business partner in Sure Things, Inc. And I do mean business partner. Manny handles the marketing, packaging, advertising, getting people to invest in our products, and on and on. If it has to do with numbers or selling, Manny is all over it.


He’s also my best friend, which he was long before Sure Things, Inc. came about.

Anyway, since Emily’s help with the now WILDLY SUCCESSFUL Gross-to-Good Powder, she’s shown much more interest in the company, and we’re getting along better than we ever have.

Today, Emily has joined Manny and me in the Sure Things, Inc. office, located in the garage at Manny’s house. She doesn’t come here often. In fact, until she came up with her powder not long ago, she had never actually bothered to step inside. I’m at my workbench, a.k.a. the Mad Scientist Division of Sure Things, Inc., cleaning up a bit following the frenzy—and mess—that always happens when I’m in the throes of inventing. And by “cleaning up,” I mean shoving piles of wires, switches, bulbs, knobs, and a rainbow-colored wig (don’t ask) off my worktable into a nearby drawer. Which leaves only about four layers of stuff on top of the table.

Manny is hunched over his keyboard, as usual, tracking up-to-the-minute sales figures on all of our products.

Emily is sitting next to me. Every time she looks at the mess on my workbench, she shakes her head and turns away.

“What’s the latest on the Gross-to-Good Powder?” Emily asks Manny.

Manny continues to tap away on the keyboard.

“Uh, Manny,” Emily continues, “when someone asks you a question, the polite thing to do is to answer it. At least that’s how it works with NORMAL HUMANS.”

Okay, so maybe Emily doesn’t want to ship me off to Saturn anymore, but I can’t say the same for my best friend. . . .

Manny whirls around in his chair to face us.

“Numbers are great. The Midwest is leading the way with a forty-seven percent rise in sales over the last three weeks,” he reports.

“I would have thought that our house was leading the way, since we put the powder on every single thing Dad cooks!” Emily jokes.

I love my dad. He’s a great artist and gardener, but he is, hands down, the world’s worst cook. Dad wasn’t always the only family chef. My mom travels a lot as a scientist doing research for the government, and about nine months ago she left for her longest trip yet. She wasn’t much better at cooking either, but Mom loved to order in pizza. Dad? Well, Dad likes pizza, but with his own additions. Asparagus, kale, codfish, chia seeds, stinky cheese instead of regular cheese . . . Dad’s cooking is really gross.


Only he doesn’t think so. Fortunately, Emily filled our salt shaker at home with the Gross-to-Good Powder, so now Dad can keep thinking he’s a great cook, we don’t have to hurt his feelings by telling him otherwise, and we can stand to eat his cooking every night.

As for my mom, I miss her a lot, although we e-mail all the time and video chat when possible.

And so, at least for the time being, Emily and I have one of Dad’s bizarre concoctions to look forward to each night at dinnertime. In fact, Dad is so proud of his cooking that his latest painting project is a series of still lifes based on the strange dishes he’s come up with. It’s a little weird. I mean, who would want to buy a painting of JELLIED TUNA?

“That’s fantastic, Manny,” I say after hearing the rundown of our sales figures.

“Absolutely,” replies Manny. Then, without missing a beat, “So, what’s next?”

That’s my partner. As soon as one invention is selling like crazy, Manny is ready to jump into what we’re going to do next.

“I have a file of ideas we’ve rejected,” I say. “Maybe we could rethink one of those.” I grab a cardboard file box out from under my desk and pull off the lid. Okay—maybe I’m not the most organized. The file has rejected inventions in it, but it’s also got doodles of my favorite baseball team, the Hyenas, and the math homework I forgot to hand in last week.


“Let’s see . . . there’s the pen that turns into a jet pack . . .” I begin, reading off the correct paper. “Nah, getting the engine that small could take years.”

“What about another product like the SIBLING SILENCER?” Emily asks. She smiles smugly. Emily loves using Sure Things, Inc.’s second product on me. Last week she silenced me when I was talking about superheroes. Just as I was about to tell her about how I’d love to be invisible, ZING! I couldn’t talk any more. Note to self: Install a “Billy Immunity” option on future models.


“Actually, I didn’t invent that,” I say. “That came out of our Next Big Thing contest where other young inventors submitted their ideas on our website. We picked the one we liked the best and helped the inventor make it a reality.”

“So, why not do that again?” asks Emily.

I turn to Manny, who seems to be half listening and half answering his e-mails, even though he’s the one who started this conversation.

“What do you think, Manny?” I ask.

Manny doesn’t react. Make that one-quarter listening, and three-quarters answering e-mails.

“I don’t think he heard you, Billy,” says Emily. “Working with someone like this every day would drive me—”

“What if we took the contest ONE STEP FURTHER?” Manny says suddenly, turning to look right at us. “What if we turned the Next Big Thing contest into a TV show?”

Emily shoots me a look that I can only interpret as: Okay, maybe working with this guy is not so bad after all.

“A TV show?” I ask.

“Yeah. Well, more like a TV show special, where young inventors present everything from rough ideas to preliminary sketches to first-pass prototypes. Then the judges—I’m thinking the three of us—vote. It won’t be about who has already made the best invention, but who has the best idea. Just like with the Sibling Silencer, the winning inventor would share in the profits, and the TV show would be marketing in itself!”

“That would be way cooler than just sending your idea to a website,” says Emily.

“But how do we even do that?” I ask. “I mean, a TV show? Where do we start?”

“I’ll get in touch with Chris Fernell,” Manny says. “He should be able to point us in the right direction.”

Chris Fernell is the host of ‘BETTER THAN SLEEPING!’, the TV show where I was interviewed just after the All Ball hit big. He’s somewhat of a friend, or as much of a friend as a TV host can be with a kid, and that’s pretty cool.

“This is fantastic,” I say. “Doing a TV show again, and helping a young inventor, and coming up with Sure Things’ NEXT BIG THING! Wow!”

As usual, Manny has the answer. Reason #988 why I’m glad that he’s my best friend and my business partner.

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Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur Is a Spy!
Excerpt

Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur is a Spy!
Surprises
I’M BILLY SURE. Up until a moment ago, I thought I was a normal kid—a normal kid with normal schoolwork and a normal dog and normal chores. I’ve never felt anything but normal—okay, except for the fact that I’m also a world-famous inventor, but even then, still normal. Or so I thought.

But I just received the FOUR BIGGEST SURPRISES OF MY LIFE, each one bigger than the last. And now I’m not sure if I ever was normal.

Let me explain.

I’m thirteen years old. Actually, I turned thirteen today. I’m also a seventh-grader at Fillmore Middle School, and I’m the world-famous inventor behind the company SURE THINGS, INC. I’m not saying that to brag or anything. I really don’t like people who brag or who talk about how great they are. But to be honest, I am proud of what I have accomplished, even though my whole world just got thrown upside down!

Together with my best friend and business partner, Manny Reyes, I run Sure Things, Inc. Our company has invented a whole bunch of popular stuff, like the ALL BALL (a ball that can change into any kind of sports ball) and the CAT-DOG TRANSLATOR. Manny and I share an office. Well, it’s really his parents’ garage, but we’ve converted it into what the rest of the universe knows as the world headquarters of Sure Things, Inc.

Anyway, a short while ago I arrived at the office after getting a panicked phone call from Manny. We had just finished judging a live TV special during which we picked Sure Things, Inc.’s next product, or as we like to call it, the Next Big Thing.

On the TV special, we selected an invention called the NO-TROUBLE BUBBLE, a personal force field that can protect you from just about anything.


Two days after the show aired, Manny called me at home. He sounded super upset! He said that we had a problem with the No-Trouble Bubble that could result in the end of Sure Things, Inc.

Now that, as you can imagine, is pretty serious stuff. So I raced over to the office, hurried through the door, and, what do you know—I walked right SMACK! into a surprise party for my thirteenth birthday!

SURPRISE NUMBER ONE.

As it turns out, Manny’s whole “we’re in trouble” thing was a just ruse to get me over to the office, where my friends and family were waiting. My family being my dad, Bryan Sure, and Emily, my soon to be fifteen-year-old sister, who is, well . . . an older sister.

Usually my mom would be in that group too, but she’s been away from home for a while. She works all over the world, and most of the time we have no idea where she is. She’s a research scientist, or so she has always told me. In the weeks leading up to my big birthday (after all, you only become a teenager once), I had practically begged her to visit, but Mom kept saying that she couldn’t make it.

Except she could make it. When Manny opened another door, I found out that Mom was:

SURPRISE NUMBER TWO!

But then, a few minutes after Mom’s unexpected appearance, she asked me to step away from the party and go outside with her so we could talk about something “in private.”

Naturally, my mind started racing. What could she want to talk about that is so important and so secret?

My mom revealed SURPRISE NUMBER THREE. She’s not really a research scientist. And nope, she hasn’t been away in Antarctica like we thought. What I found out is something even cooler. My mom is a spy!

And then, immediately after, I received the FOURTH and by far THE BIGGEST SURPRISE OF ALL when Mom said to me:

“When I leave, I want you to come with me. I need your help.”

So now? Now I’m stunned. I hardly know what to say. I stare at my mom in disbelief. Am I on the TV show Prank Attack, the one where they prank celebrities? I look closely at Mom’s clothing. I peek around the backyard. No hidden camera or microphone. No one is jumping out of the bushes.

This is real!

I’ll be honest. Manny and I have thought my mom might be a spy for a while now. We’ve joked about it—especially a few months ago, after Mom sent me a “self-destructing” computer program to catch Alistair Swiped, a thief who was stealing my invention ideas. But then I remembered that Mom is just my mom. She’s the kind of mom who orders in pizza and on more than one occasion laughed so hard that she spit all over my dad’s shirt. The mom whose nickname for our dog, Philo, is O-MY-O PHILO! Could that same Mom really be a spy?

“I know it’s a lot to absorb, honey,” Mom says. She looks around, as if she is half-expecting a team of top secret ninja spies to leap from the bushes and arrest her just for having this conversation with me. “You can ask me any questions you want.”

My mind is reeling. A thousand questions pop into my head, but I ask the most straightforward one first.

“Who do you work for? The CIA? The FBI? The Secret Service?”

“I can’t say,” Mom says.

“You can tell me,” I press.

“No, I really can’t say,” Mom replies. “I’m not trying to dodge your question, Billy, but if I tried to say the agency’s name, my tongue would fall out.” Then she looks kinda sad. “Poor Agent Lugman found out the hard way.”


Is she for real?

“I’m thirteen,” I say, coming to a realization. “That means you’ve been keeping this secret for thirteen years! Why tell me the truth now?”

“I am truly sorry, honey,” she says, taking my hand. “It was just safer for the whole family if you and Emily didn’t know. As to why now, well . . . I need your help. Specifically, your genius for inventing.”

Mom sure knows my soft spot. Mention inventing and I’m all ears.

She continues. “Sometimes, we spies find ourselves in situations where our spy gear can be easily taken. Physical objects—even hidden ones like microphones in lipstick containers, transmitters in soda cans, lasers inside pens—can be found and confiscated by enemy agents.

“I wouldn’t come to you, Billy, if we had another choice. But our agency’s best inventors can’t crack this code, and I think you can. We need an invention that is undetectable to enemy agents. We would like you to invent SPY DYE—a hair dye that combines all the functions of a spy’s usual secret gear. Spy Dye should allow the agent to read minds, keep tech concealed, act as a personal force field, and do anything else you can cram into liquid form that can be worked into someone’s hair.”

Spy Dye—I smile to myself. Manny would definitely approve of that name. But thinking of Manny makes me think of other people too. How many people know Mom is a spy?

“Does Dad know about your real job?” I ask. My dad is notoriously bad at keeping secrets.

“Of course,” Mom replies. “In fact, he helps me.”

WHAT?! I’m not ready for SURPRISE NUMBER FIVE. My dad is a great guy. He’s a painter, a gardener, and a cook (kind of). But a spy? That, most definitely, does not compute.

“You know some of those wacky meals he creates?” Mom continues.

“All too well,” I reply. That’s why I said Dad is kind of a cook, because he loves to do it but he’s terrible at it! Fortunately, Sure Things, Inc. invented the GROSS-TO-GOOD POWDER not too long ago. Sprinkle a little bit on your meal and it makes anything, even Dad’s cooking, taste great.

“It just so happens that some of those meals are actually coded messages from me,” Mom says. “There are times when I can’t afford to have someone discover my location or know where I’m headed from an e-mail. So your dad and I developed a code. Whenever I send him an e-mail suggesting that he make waffles, he knows that my case is solved!”


“That’s pretty cool,” I say. “Thanks for making your code waffles and not canned tuna fish.”

Mom laughs.

“And depending on the type of ingredients I suggest, he knows when I’ll be arriving at my next destination.”

“So those pickle and pineapple waffles Dad made last week were actually a coded message?” I ask.

“Yes. That particular combination meant that my latest case was solved and I’d be coming home soon. That’s how he knew that I’d be here for your party.”

“What’s the significance of waffles?” I ask, wondering if I would be good at breaking codes.

Mom shrugs. “Your dad likes waffles.”

She takes a deep breath and looks at me. Really looks at me—the way she did when she dropped me off at school for the first time, and when she watches me slurp my cereal for breakfast, and when I sort the purple jelly beans from the pack.

“Billy, you’ve proven time and again that you can make even the wildest inventions happen. I’m afraid you are our last hope. Will you come with me to the agency’s Spy Academy?”

As someone who has to deal with school, homework, running a business, being president of a club (the Fillmore Middle School Inventors Club), taking care of Philo, and dealing with an older sister (practically a full-time job by itself), I am used to juggling lots of things in my head. But the sheer enormity of all I have just learned, especially Mom’s request, is kind of overwhelming.

But through the shock, surprise, worry, and confusion, one thought bubbles up to the front of my brain.

THIS IS THE COOLEST THING EVER!

I mean, I’m being hired by the government to create an invention . . . and one I don’t even have to dream up from absolute scratch. This Spy Dye idea is really intriguing, like a mash-up of lots of my previous work, but in liquid form. Plus, I’ll get to spend time with my mom, something I hardly ever get to do.

So the answer, I think, is obvious.

“Like my name . . . SURE. I’ll totally go with you to Spy Academy!” I say, thrilled beyond belief.

Mom gives me a big hug. “Thank you, Billy,” she says.

“I can’t wait to tell Manny and Emily and—”

Mom cuts me off right there.

“I’m sorry, Billy,” she says. “This is top secret. You can’t tell anyone! Not Manny, not Emily, not even Philo—not when you have a spare Cat-Dog Translator in your room!”

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Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur Is NOT A SINGER!
Excerpt

Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur Is NOT A SINGER!
Def?initely Sure
MY NAME IS BILLY SURE. Right now I’m sitting at my workbench at the World Headquarters of SURE THINGS, INC. Across the room—which used to be the Reyes family garage—sits my best friend and business partner, Manny Reyes. Manny and I make up Sure Things, Inc., the world’s only inventing company run by seventh graders—or so we thought.

We recently discovered that a company named Definite Devices also exists, and it is also run by two seventh graders—Nat Definite and Jada Parikh. And not only do they exist, but they were working on an invisibility invention at the same time as us at Sure Things, Inc.!

As you can imagine, that was kind of a problem. But Manny, being the genius chief financial officer (CFO) he is, worked out a deal. We all agreed to jointly release an invisibility kit produced by both Sure Things, Inc. and Definite Devices—the DEFINITELY SURE INVISIBILITY (AND ANTI-INVISIBILITY) SPRAYS.

Before our two companies agreed to work together on that one invention, Nat did her best to try to steal Manny away from me—and from Sure Things, Inc! She wanted him to work with her over at Definite Devices, because . . . well, the obvious answer is that Manny is a brilliant CFO, businessperson, marketing genius, computer whiz . . . but it’s MORE THAN THAT.

Nat has a crush on Manny!

“That is the most beautiful spreadsheet I’ve ever seen, Manny,” Nat says, her face glowing. (Oh yeah. Because we’re technically partners and all, she’s sitting at the World Headquarters now too.)

Jada, who Manny agreed to train as the CFO for Definite Devices, scrunches up her face.

“How can a spreadsheet be beautiful, Nat?” she asks. “It’s just a series of numbers and projections and—”

“Anything Manny does is beautiful,” says Nat.

See what I mean?

“So, Jada,” Manny begins, doing his best to ignore Nat, “as you can see, we’ve placed the sprays in a few high-end specialty stores.”

“To generate early buzz on social media,” Jada adds.

“Exactly,” Manny replies. “So by the time we release it to the major chains—”

“—people will be waiting in line to buy it,” Jada finishes.

Jada’s really smart. Like . . . Manny-smart.

Just then a noise comes from Manny’s phone.

Ping!

“Looks like we have another incident of someone using the Definitely Sure Invisibility Spray to cut a line,” Manny says, frowning. “Last week someone used it at a movie theater. Now in a theme park.”

“That’s not good,” I say. Then I get an idea. “Maybe the next batch of sprays can make kids who try to cut lines grow REALLY BIG ELEPHANT TRUNKS! Temporarily, of course.”

“Great idea, partner,” Manny says. “That could make using the rides really hard!”

I might be imagining it, but I think he emphasizes the word “partner” so that Nat and Jada notice.


“All right, that’s enough work for today,” Manny adds with a smile.

I think what Manny really means is, You should go home now, Nat.

Nat frowns. But she can’t complain, because she has been here for hours. She and Jada pack up and leave.

I’m just about to do my best Nat imitation a few minutes later, (“Manny, you are so, so funny!”) when Briiiiing! Briiiing! My phone rings. I don’t recognize the number.

I pick up the phone, hoping it has nothing to do with Definite Devices. Don’t get me wrong—I’m happy there are other kids out there who are working on their dreams. I’ve just kind of had enough of them for today.


“Hi, Billy?” comes a voice through the phone.

Hmm. It doesn’t sound like Nat or Jada!

“Is this a good time to talk?” she asks, pronouncing every syllable clearly in a British accent. “It’s Gemma Weston.”

Gemma . . . Weston?!

She’s only the most famous movie star in the whole world!

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By A Thread

By A Thread

by Ned Dickens
illustrated by Graham Ross
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover
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By a Thread

By a Thread

by Ned Dickens
illustrated by Graham Ross
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
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Excerpt

“I sympathize, Bard,” murmured Curtis politely.

“But, frankly, I think that you've landed quite lightly,

While I am, I think, at the end of my thread.

If I am and I fall, I'm afraid I'll be—."

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Cheetah

Cheetah

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illustrated by Graham Ross
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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Monster Lunch

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illustrated by Graham Ross
edition:eBook
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The Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur Collection

The Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur Collection

Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur; Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur and the Stink Spectacular; Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur and the Cat-Dog Translator; Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur and the Best Test
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edition:Paperback
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illustrated by Graham Ross
edition:eBook
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by Sigmund Brouwer
illustrated by Graham Ross
edition:eBook
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by Pat Skene
illustrated by Graham Ross
edition:eBook
tagged : humorous
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What a Hippopota-Mess!

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