In this middle-grade novela hilarious spin-off of writer Tommy Greenwald and illustrator Rebecca Roher's Charlie Joe Jackson seriesthe class clown is suddenly a big-time movie star.
Pete Milano has always been the class clown and proud of it. What's the point of having friends if you can't make them laugh, right? Even if doing so has the unfortunate side effect of constantly getting him into trouble. But, for once, Pete's tricks have led him to just the right place at just the right time. Now he's about to become famous, because he's been asked to audition for the hottest new movie with the hottest girl costar. But balancing real life with movie life is way harder than it sounds. Will Pete's newfound fame mean losing his girlfriend and all his friends? Find out in Pete Milano's Guide to Being a Movie Star.
Books in the Charlie Joe Jackson series:
Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading
Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Extra Credit
Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Summer Vacation
Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Making Money
Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Planet Girl
Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Growing Up
Other Charlie Joe Jackson spin-offs:
Jack Strong Takes a Stand
Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting (And Lives to Tell About It.)
Pete Milano's Guide to Being a Movie Star
About the Author
Tommy Greenwald is the author of the Charlie Joe Jackson series, as well as Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting!, Jack Strong Takes a Stand, and now Pete Milano's Guide to Being a Movie Star. He loves going to the movies, where is favorite snack is popcorn and Raisinettes mixed together.
Read an Excerpt
Pete Milano's Guide to Being a Movie Star
By Tommy Greenwald, Rebecca Roher
Roaring Brook PressCopyright © 2016 Tommy Greenwald
All rights reserved.
IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO NOT STEAL POM-POMS
"STOP HIM! STOP THAT BOY!"
That was Mrs. Collins yelling at me, as usual.
She yelled at me a lot because, for some reason, I do a lot of annoying things to her daughter, Eliza. I don't really know why I do them. I used to think it was because she was so pretty and I knew she would never like someone like me, so I decided to make that decision easy for her by being a jerk. But then I got a girlfriend, and you would think that would make me less interested in annoying Eliza. But I was just as interested in annoying her as ever. Maybe because I knew she could take it. She has no problem sticking up for herself, that's for sure. And her mom has no problem sticking up for her, either.
"STOP!" she yelled again.
But I didn't stop.
It's not like I planned it or anything. I'm not a big planner, like Charlie Joe. But when I walked by the cheerleaders on my way to soccer practice and I saw Eliza put her pom-poms on the grass, I was like, how can I not take them? Eliza wasn't even paying attention, since she was in the middle of one of those pyramid-formation things. And anyway, I knew I could outrun Eliza. But what I didn't realize was that Eliza's mom was there, too. She was probably sucking up to the coach, like all parents do. So anyway, Eliza is jumping around and not paying any attention, but the minute I grabbed those pom-poms, I heard a scream: "Just what do you think you're doing?"
I looked up, saw Mrs. Collins staring down at me like an angry giraffe, and just took off.
I can easily outrun Mrs. Collins, I thought to myself.
But the only problem was that she got in her car.
I was pretty sure I couldn't outrun her car.
But I was sure going to try.CHAPTER 2
THE LADY WITH THE LAPTOPS
THE GOOD THING is that Eastport Middle School is really close to downtown, where there are a lot of little shops and streets and places to hide. And I knew that if I could just make it downtown, I had a much better chance of getting away.
I was halfway across the football field when I saw Mrs. Collins turn out of the school driveway in her fancy convertible. Her hair was flying in the wind like a magic carpet. She was driving fast. And in a school zone!
Where was Mr. Trenchler, the traffic warden, when you needed him?
I ditched the pom-poms in the bushes and took off down School Street, which is either a real coincidence, or named after the middle school. Anyway, Mrs. Collins was gaining on me — a car racing against a human isn't exactly a fair fight — so I ducked into the alley that leads to Harbor Street, which has a bunch of shops on one side and the river on the other. When she drove past the alley, she saw me and yelled, "Where did you put my daughter's pom-poms? They were very expensive, you little twerp!"
They didn't look that expensive at all, by the way.
I hollered back "In the bushes!" but she was already in the middle of making a U-turn. I realized she was about to head back toward me! So while her car was turned the other way I looked around for someplace to hide. The first place I saw was a fancy coffee shop called Just Brew It. I ran inside.
When I shut the door behind me, it was like the world disappeared. Everything got quiet. There were only three or four people in the store. All I could hear was someone breathing really loudly. After a minute I realized the person breathing was me.
"Hey, can I get you anything?"
I looked up to see a guy behind the counter. He was only a couple of years older than me, but he already had a ton of tattoos and earrings everywhere, including a bunch of places that weren't his ears.
"Ouch," I said, staring at a tiny metal hoop that went through his lip.
"Ouch yourself," said the guy.
"Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to say that out loud."
The guy shrugged. "I've heard worse, plenty worse." He looked me up and down. "Aren't you a little young for coffee?"
"Oh, yeah, well I don't want anything," I said, my breath slowly returning to normal speed. "I was just running away from this crazy lady who was chasing me because I stole her daughter's pom-poms. But it's okay, because I threw them in the bushes."
"Ooookay," the guy said, shaking his head.
I was used to getting that reaction from people. The thing is, I have a problem with the truth — I always tell it. I can't help it. It's gotten me in real trouble. Lying is a lot safer, usually. I probably shouldn't be telling you that, but it's the truth. See, there I go again.
"Do you have a thing for pom-poms?" asked a voice behind me.
I turned around to see someone sitting at a table in the corner. I was pretty sure it was a woman, but I wasn't positive because she was hiding behind two laptops, and her face was smushed against a cell phone. She looked like a one-person Apple Store.
"Um, did you say something?"
The Apple-covered person hung up the phone. Yup — a lady, just like I thought.
"Yes, I just wondered if you had a thing for pom-poms. Why else would you steal them?"
I scratched my head. This lady seemed kind of weird, but kind of funny.
"No, I don't have a thing for pom-poms," I said. "I just have a thing for getting on people's nerves sometimes."
"Why is that?" asked the lady.
"Because it makes life less boring, I guess."
She closed her two laptops — click, click — and looked up at me for the first time.
"I know exactly what you mean," she said.CHAPTER 3
THE LADY WITH THE LAPTOPS turned out to be named Iris. She looked like she was about my mom's age, but I could tell she spent a lot more money on her hair than my mom did.
"Iris?" I said. "I've never heard that name before."
She sent a quick text or email from her phone, then looked up at me. "Well, my given name was Irene, but I changed it."
"It just wasn't getting the job done."
"The job of life."
I nodded, even though I had no idea what she was talking about.
She pointed to the chair next to her. "If you're going to hide out from the law, you may as well be comfortable about it. Take a seat."
"I'm not hiding out from the law," I pointed out. "Just someone's mom."
"Gotcha," said Iris.
I sat down.
Iris raised her hand to get the attention of the guy with all the earrings. "Can you please get my friend here a lemonade?"
"You got it," the guy said.
Iris looked at me so intensely that I felt kind of like an animal in the zoo — a weird, strange-looking animal, like an aardvark or something.
"What's your name, if you don't mind my asking?"
"So, Pete," Iris said. "Do you make a habit of causing trouble?"
"Do you mind if I ask why?"
I thought for a second, trying to figure out why this Iris lady was asking me that. Maybe she was friends with Mrs. Collins! But probably not. Maybe she was one of those people that works in schools, dealing with the troublemakers, helping them get in touch with their feelings and all that.
But then that old tell-the-truth thing happened again, before I could stop it.
"'Causing trouble' sounds bad. It's more like I do things that I think are really funny, but sometimes it turns out that other people don't think they are nearly as funny as I do."
"I see," Iris said, nodding, still studying me.
"It's my turn to ask a question," I said.
Iris smiled. "Sure."
"Why are you asking me so many questions? I mean, I'm basically just a kid like any other kid."
"Well, that's just it," Iris said. "You have this thing that a lot of kids can relate to. 'Relate-ability' we call it in my business. The ability to relate."
"What business is that?"
Iris twirled a giant purple ring that was on her left pinkie.
"The movie business," she said.
"I love movies," I said.
"Me, too. That's why I picked this career."
"What do you do in the movie business?"
"I'm a producer," Iris said. "In fact, I'm here in Eastport looking at locations for a new project."
"Places to shoot the movie," Iris explained.
I took a sip of my lemonade and tried to act like I'd met movie producers tons of times. But I hadn't, of course. Not even once, in fact.
"Cool," I said.
Iris was smiling. "So, Pete, I have one more question for you, if that would be okay."
"I got nowhere to be," I said, which made Iris laugh.
"Well," she said, "this might sound strange, but I'd like to have you read."
She laughed again. "Sorry, I mean audition. For a part in the movie."
I coughed and a tiny bit of lemonade came out my nose. Then I said something that I think sounded kind of like "Blurghrwigegaa."
"I'm serious," she said. "We're having a tough time finding a kid to play a certain part, and you might be just what we're looking for."
I found my voice. "What? Seriously? What kind of kid?"
"Well, as it turns out," Iris said, "he's a little bit of a troublemaker."
"I can do that," I said.
"I bet you can," Iris said. Then she reached into her purse and pulled out a card, which she handed to me. IRIS GALT/PUDDING PRODUCTIONS, it said. LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA. "Go home and talk to your parents. If they say okay, then call this number, and we'll go from there."
Her phone buzzed, and she looked at it. "Whoops," she said. Then she pushed a button and yelled, "Be right there, Sheldon!" It took her about five seconds to gather up her laptops, her phone, her purse, her bag, and her notebook and stand up. I swear, I've never seen anyone move that fast or carry that much stuff.
"Hope to see you again, Pete," she said, and flew out the door.
I waved, but she was long gone. Then I just sat there for a minute, trying to figure out what had just happened.
"Dude," said the tattooed, pierced guy. I jumped as if he'd woken me out of a deep sleep. "You want anything else?"
I shook my head. "Nah, I'm good."
I guess for once, I didn't tell the whole truth.
I was better than good.CHAPTER 4
THE FIRST THING I did when I left the coffee place was to get the pom-poms out of the bushes where I threw them, then bike over to Eliza's house and put them by the front door.
I didn't want to keep them, of course. What am I going to do with pom-poms? I just wanted to take them for a while.
Then I headed home. I wasn't sure anyone in my family would be there. But that's okay, because I knew they'd probably be right downstairs. The thing is, we live over my parents' restaurant — MILANO'S PIZZA AND PASTA. Everyone thinks it must be awesome living over your parents' restaurant, and it is sometimes. But the truth is, my dad is almost never home. He works all the time. And my mom works there, too, when my dad is shorthanded. Lately she'd been there a lot, because the restaurant wasn't doing that great. My dad says that people aren't eating out as much as they used to. I wouldn't really know about that, because we basically never eat out. And my dad owns a restaurant right downstairs! Where's the logic in that?
I stepped into the restaurant and tried to get my parents' attention, but they were both busy with a little league team that had just come in to celebrate a big win. My mom saw me, though, and came over to give me a kiss.
"Ma, I have something to tell you!"
"I'll be up in an hour, Petey." My parents are the only people who are allowed to call me Petey, by the way, so don't get any ideas.
"Okay." As I headed upstairs, I could hear music, which meant my little sister Sylvia was home. She was probably doing homework. Sylvia is pretty much the exact opposite of me. Never gets in trouble. Never gets less than an A. And never, ever, ever was going to believe what I was about to tell her.
I knocked on her door and went in without waiting for an answer. "Hey, Syl, guess what?"
She looked up from her book.
"I'm going to be a movie star."
She rolled her eyes. "As if!"
Well, you can't just sit there and take it when your little sister talks to you like that.
So I went over, pushed her down on the bed, and started tickling her.
"Get off me!" she screamed, but she was giggling. I wasn't hurting her or anything. I was just telling her who's boss. After about a minute, I let her go.
"You're such a big fat liar," Sylvia said, panting.
"Oh, yeah?" I reached into my pocket, pulled out Iris's business card, and threw it at my little sister.
"Pudding Productions?" she said. "What's that?"
"It's a company that makes movies," I explained. "This lady Iris works there, and she wants me to try out for the movie that they're shooting in Eastport."
"Shut up," Sylvia said, but before I could sit on her again, she screamed, "I take it back! I take it back!"
She scooted over to the side of the bed, and I told her the whole story: how I ran away from Mrs. Collins, how I ditched the pom-poms in the bushes, how I ducked into Just Brew It, how this lady started talking to me and examining me like I was a science project, and then telling me that she thought I should try out for her movie.
"So you're gonna be famous?" my sister asked. "Like, a movie star?"
"Nah," I said, but inside I was thinking, Yeah.
Sylvia pulled herself up off the bed and went to her desk. "If Mom and Dad let you," she said.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well, they've been talking about having you work in the restaurant now that you're old enough, remember?"
Ugh. I did remember. "You need something to do after school," my mom would say, all the time. "You need an activity or else you're just going to keep getting in trouble all the time."
My dad would grunt in agreement. That was his main form of communication, unless he was mad. Then he would grunt really loudly, which meant it was time to sneak out of the room quietly.
I snatched the card back out of my sister's hand and put it away in a safe place. "Well, if I'm a movie star, that ought to keep me plenty busy."
"Did you text Mareli?"
I felt my face get hot. Mareli Quinones was my girlfriend. Well, kind of. Can someone be your girlfriend if you haven't kissed them yet? I hope so. I really liked Mareli, but I was really shy about trying to kiss her. People would be surprised to hear that, because they think I'm the type of kid who's willing to try anything. But gluing your teacher's textbook closed is one thing. Kissing a girl is another.
"No, not yet," I answered.
"Because I haven't, that's why." The truth was, I wasn't going to tell Mareli about the movie thing until I really believed it was true. And part of me didn't.
Sylvia looked like she was going to make another smart-aleck comment, but she decided not to. Probably because she knew I would have grabbed her elbow skin and twisted it if she had. Have you ever grabbed someone's elbow skin? It's actually a good thing to do, because it hurts a little, but not a lot. So it's a good way to get a message across to someone, without causing any real damage.
Bella, our dog, started barking her head off. Which meant one of two things: Either we were about to get robbed by burglars, or Mom was home. I heard a key in the door. Most burglars don't have keys.
"Mom's home," I told my little sister.
"I hope she brought dinner," Syl said. "I'm starving." Remember earlier when I said we never eat out? Well, the good news was that we usually got whatever was on special at the restaurant, and it was delicious. (And I'm not just saying that.)
We both charged down the hall. Sylvia was ahead of me for the first three steps, until I shoved her aside and took the lead.
"Ow!" she howled. "You made me bang my head."
"Tell it to the judge," I said, which was a phrase I picked up from my dad, even though I had no idea what it meant.
When my mom opened the door, a lot of things happened at the same time: Bella jumped into my mom's arms, my sister smacked me on the butt, a pizza box went flying, and I yelled at the top of my lungs.
"MOM! YOU'LL NEVER BELIEVE IT! I'M GONNA BE A MOVIE STAR!"
My mom petted Bella and hugged Sylvia. Or maybe it was the other way around.
"That's terrific," she said. "But can we eat dinner first?"CHAPTER 5
HELLO? IS THIS HOLLYWOOD ON THE PHONE?
WHEN I TOLD MY MOM THE STORY, she interrupted me as soon as I got to the part about the pompoms.
"Did you apologize to Eliza and her mother?"
"Well, you need to call them."
"I will! Just let me finish the story!"
When I got to the part about the lady named Iris and me becoming a movie star, my mom interrupted again.
"Did this person offer you a part in the movie?"
"No," I said.
"Did she tell you about any other movies she's ever produced?"
"No," I said.
"Did you Google her company to make sure it was real?"
This time I just shook my head.
My mom let out one of those mom sighs. You know, the kind that says Will these crazy kids ever learn?
"Let me see the card," she said.
I ran to my room and got Iris's business card out of my shoe box where I keep all my valuable things, including the blue ribbon I won for drawing, my third grade report card where I got my first — and so far only — A, and the picture of my dad standing in a tub of shaving cream after I nailed the bull's-eye to dunk him at the school carnival.
I ran back to my mom. "See? It's real!"
"A business card doesn't make it real," my mom said.
"It has a pretty nice website," said my sister, who was sitting at the computer.
"Anyone can make a website," said my mom. She had an answer for everything.
Excerpted from Pete Milano's Guide to Being a Movie Star by Tommy Greenwald, Rebecca Roher. Copyright © 2016 Tommy Greenwald. Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Act One: Lights!,
It's Impossible To Not Steal Pom-Poms,
The Lady With The Laptops,
Hello? Is This Hollywood On The Phone?,
Who's That Girl?,
The Best Part About Being In A Movie,
Act Two: Camera!,
The Night Before,
The First Rule Of Show Business,
Things Start To Get Weird,
Actor To Actor,
Ready For Nothing,
Hurry Up And ... Fail,
Act Three: Action!,
It's Lonely At The Top,
Delicious Food, Lousy Conversation,
Leaving A Mark,
Shelden Feldon Doesn't Smoke A Cigar,
The Return Of Iris,
The Sound Cake Makes When It Hits Human Skin,
Act Four: Every Movie Needs A Happy Ending,
Sometimes, Even Seven Apologies Aren't Enough,
Quite A Scene,
On The Run Again,
Back To School,
About the Author,
About the Illustrator,
By Tommy Greenwald,