Frank einstein and the b.., p.1
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       Frank Einstein and the BrainTurbo, p.1

           Jon Scieszka
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Frank Einstein and the BrainTurbo


  HUMANS. DEEP IN THE OLDEST JUNGLE. DENSE GREEN. BIRDCALLS echo. Wet earth smell. Mud squishes through toes. Air thick enough to taste. Following a skeleton hiker. That suddenly lights up a network of sparking nerves, feeding into a glowing brain. A clearing ahead. There—a dark figure, from the future, stands on a mound of sand, winds up, and fires a rock . . . fast, faster, fastest . . . dreams Janegoodall.

  Candy. Sweet, sour, salty, bitter, hot, cold, glorious. Turbocharged candy. Pulsing, exploding super candy . . . dreams Watson.

  The watery crash of ocean waves. Schools of . . . those fish . . . not really fish . . . what do you call those things? Bottlenose mammals leap out of the water in graceful arcs. The blue-green water covering Earth. The solar system of Mercury, Venus, Mars . . . and that next planet. Used to know them like my own name . . . dreams Grampa Al.

  Purple storm clouds crashing over volcano lightning-bolt drumming heartbeat explosion. Grab that blue-white crackling electrical charge. Guide it into looping spiral. Multiply it through brain stem, to brain lobes in a beautiful, throbbing, golden network. Janegoodall cheers. Watson laughs. Grampa Al, but somehow ten-year-old Grampa Al, dances a funny little dance . . . dreams Frank Einstein.

  01010111 01001000 01011001 00100000 01000011 01001000 01001001 01000011 01001011 01000101 01001110 00100000 01010111 01001000 01011001 00111111 . . . dreams Klink.




































  THE HUMAN BODY IS AMAZING,” SAYS FRANK EINSTEIN, TO WATSON, in the visitors’ dugout of the Midville baseball diamond, watching Janegoodall on the pitcher’s mound.

  Frank thumbs the joystick on the remote control for his mini FrankenDrone. The little quadcopter swoops into position above the mound and starts beaming pictures back to Frank’s display.

  Janegoodall turns sideways to home plate.

  “There is the whole system of bones making up the skeleton,” marvels Frank.

  She folds her arms close to her chest, lifting her left leg in a windup.

  “The whole muscular system moving the bones . . . ,” Frank continues.

  Janegoodall strides forward.

  “The digestive system producing energy for the muscles . . .”

  She pushes off the mound with her right leg.

  “The heart and blood circulatory system delivering that energy . . .”

  Unfolding her arms, turning her body, extending and windmilling her right arm.

  “And the nervous system controlling everything . . . Amazing.”

  Releasing the baseball from her right hand.

  “Mmm-hmm,” agrees Watson, thoughtfully sucking a sour lemon candy.

  The ball flies from the tips of Janegoodall’s fingers and across the forty-six feet to home plate in just over half a second.

  Klank swings his bat and misses.

  Poom! The ball hits Klink’s catcher’s mitt.

  “Strike one,” announces Klink. “Projectile speed, fifty-five miles per hour.”

  Frank studies the drone pictures and the diagrams of the human body systems on his laptop display. “So all we have to do to help Janegoodall is come up with an invention to make the human body just a bit more amazing.”

  Watson follows his sour lemon with a sweet cherry candy. “That’s all? Oh, simple! Just make the human body better than it already is . . . the day before tryouts! Are you crazy?”

  “Of course not,” says Frank Einstein, bringing the FrankenDrone into the dugout for a perfect landing. “I have some ideas I’ve already been working on.”

  Watson pops a hot-cinnamon ball into his mouth. “That’s like me saying I’m going to invent a candy that tastes more like candy than it already does.”

  “Exactly,” says Frank.

  Klink shoots the baseball back to Janegoodall with his mechanical arm. “Your projectile speed is not bad . . . for a human.”

  Janegoodall catches the ball, ignores Klink’s wisecrack, and walks around the pitcher’s mound, giving herself a pep talk. “But I must be faster for the tryouts.”

  “Put one over the plate,” beeps Klank at bat. “I almost had that one!”

  Klink rolls his webcam eye. “You were not even close.”

  Frank outlines his thoughts in his human-body lab notebook:

  OBSERVATION: Pitching uses many systems of the human body.

  Janegoodall winds up.

  HYPOTHESIS: Improve even one system, improve pitching results.

  Janegoodall throws.

  Klank swings a mighty arc.


  “Strike two. Fifty-six miles per hour,” says catcher Klink, tossing the ball back to the pitcher’s mound.

  EXPERIMENT: Find way to improve skeleton, muscles, digestion, circulation . . . ?

  Watson pops a sunflower seed into his mouth. “I should invent a candy that has all the tastes—sour, sweet, salty . . .”

  Frank nudges the remote joystick to relaunch the FrankenDrone. “That might actually be a good idea, Watson.”

  Janegoodall winds up and throws.

  “Hmmm,” says Watson. “I could call my candy EveryTaste.”

  Klank closes his eyes and swings so hard, he spins around like a giant top.


  The baseball hits the bat and rockets off. It arches high, higher, up over the left-field wall . . .

  Klank twirls. “I hit it! I hit it! I hit it!”

  “Hardly possible,” calculates Klink. “But yes, you did, somehow, hit it.”

  The ball disappears completely out of Midville Menlo Park.

  “Wow,” says Frank.

  Tsssssssh! There is a sound of breaking glass—from right where the ball disappeared.

  “Uh-oh,” says Watson, jumping to his feet.

  THE HUMAN BODY IS WEAK,” SAYS T. EDISON, TO MR. CHIMP, IN THE middle of his fancy new T. Edison Laboratories building on Menlo Street, connecting the final electrical power wire to the stem of an enormous glass brain.

  Mr. Chimp looks up from his crossword puzzle and nods in agreement.

  T. Edison connects the wire. “Human body parts wear out, fall apart, and die.”

  Mr. Chimp taps his pencil.

  “So you know what I am doing?” asks T. Edison.

  Mr. Chimp taps his pencil again and pretends he is thinking. He rolls his eyes, shakes his head, and signs:

  “Of course you have no idea. Because I am the genius inventor and I have all the ideas.”

  T. Edison turns his invention a bit to set it firmly in its base. “I am making a brain that is faster, more powerful, and better than any human brain.”

  T. Edison flips the power switch. The glass brain glows with lines and pulses of colored light.

  “I am making a brain that will not weaken or fall apart. A brain that will allow me to control other brains . . .”

  T. Edison spreads his arms out and yells in his squeaky
voice. “I give you—the T. Edison SuperBrain!”

  T. Edison and Mr. Chimp watch the SuperBrain flash with lights, tracing the workings of every part of the brain.

  “Yes!” crows T. Edison. “I am the Wizard of Mid—”

  Tsssssssh! A section of the glass roof shatters into a hundred pieces. A shower of glass and one scuffed-up baseball rains down into the room.

  The baseball hits the T. Edison SuperBrain.

  The SuperBrain explodes in a starburst of colored sparks and wires and broken brain glass.

  “Noooooooooooooo!” yells T. Edison. “My SuperBrain! My SuperBrain is destroyed! Who did this?”

  Mr. Chimp holds up the baseball as an obvious clue.

  T. Edison stomps around in circles, raging. “Who? Who? Who?”

  Mr. Chimp ponders a six-letter word for “very intelligent.” He tosses the baseball from hand to hand.

  T. Edison’s brain works out loud. And he finally gets it. “Baseball . . . baseball diamond . . . that’s it!” yells T. Edison. “Come on, Mr. Chimp! We’re going to the Midville baseball diamond to catch the idiot who wrecked my invention!”

  Mr. Chimp fills in 7-Down on his crossword puzzle with G-E-N-I-U-S, then follows the still-fuming T. Edison out the laboratory door.

  KLINK, KLANK, FRANK, WATSON, AND JANEGOODALL WHEEL, CLOMP, run as fast as they can down Main Street, left on Oak Street, right on Pine, and into Frank Einstein’s laboratory. They slam the door shut behind them and fall on the old couch. Frank and Watson and Janegoodall laugh and pant for breath.

  Klink and Klank observe their human pals, puzzled.

  “What is with the rapid air intake?” asks Klink.

  “We used up a lot of oxygen running so fast,” explains Frank. “So our bodies are working faster than usual to replace it.”

  “I see,” says Klink, scanning his instant research on the human respiratory system.

  “Your muscles are pulling down your diaphragm, causing your lungs to expand, drawing air into your nose and mouth, down your trachea, through your bronchial tubes . . .”

  “Exactly,” says Frank, parking the FrankenDrone on a shelf above the workbench.

  “. . . into smaller airways called bronchioles,” continues Klink, “that end in small balloon-like air sacs called alveoli, that are surrounded by the smallest blood vessels, called capillaries . . .

  “. . . where the inhaled air passes into the blood and back to the heart, delivering oxygen to the cells and tissues and organs of your body.”

  “Wow,” says Janegoodall.

  “No kidding,” adds Watson. “Or you could have just said we are out of breath.”

  “I am not kidding,” says Klink. “And why are you laughing?”

  This makes Watson and Janegoodall laugh harder.

  “We just got away from someone with a broken window who was going to be very mad,” says Watson.

  “Why is that funny?” asks Klink.

  “I know why,” says Klank. “It is funny like: Why did the chicken cross the road?”

  Klink blinks a green light and hums. “From the information you have given me, I cannot tell. Why did the chicken cross the road?”

  “To get to the other side!” beeps Klank. “Ha-ha-ha!”

  Klink blinks rapidly now.

  “What? And why is that funny? Why is it a chicken? What does a chicken . . .”

  Klink’s hard-drive brain spins and stops, spins and stops.

  Frank jumps up and knocks Klink on the side of his glass dome. “Forget the chicken. Time to get going on our experiment.”

  Frank digs through a pile of broken toys and a heap of brightly colored models. “It’s perfect that Grampa Al cleaned out both the old toy store and the old hospital. And added all these great pieces to his Fix It! junkyard.”

  Frank holds up a giant wind-up cockroach and an oversize model of the human ear. “We’ve got everything we could possibly need.”

  “No kidding!” says Watson.

  Janegoodall picks up a stuffed dog with no ears and a blue-veined model of a red human heart. “Really? And why exactly do we need all this junk?”

  “Here’s why,” says Frank. “My first idea.”


  “Whoa!” says Watson.

  “Nice,” says Janegoodall.

  “Two hundred and six bones total in an adult human being,” says Frank. “And you use almost all of them when you pitch.”

  Janegoodall bends the connected humerus, radius, and ulna arm bones at the elbow joint and then nods.

  “I was reading about one of Watson’s favorite inventors . . .” Frank pins a picture of an old guy with crazy eyebrows and a long, wavy beard up on the Wall of Science.

  Watson licks two of his candies. “Leonardo da Vinci.” Watson sticks the sweet and sour candies together. “Hey! That’s an even better name than EveryTaste. I’ll call my new candy invention the da Vinci!”

  “Born April 15, 1452,” Klink recites. “Italian painter, sculptor, inventor, musician, mathematician, engineer, and writer.”

  “I saw this drawing da Vinci did when he was studying the human body,” continues Frank. “And I had the idea—double the skeleton, double the power!”

  Janegoodall flips the skeleton’s femur. “What?”

  “So Klink and Klank and I have an idea for a great improvement.” Frank digs around in the pile of toys and models in the lab.

  Frank finds what he is searching for and holds up two arms and two legs.

  “Wow,” says Janegoodall.

  Frank and Klink quickly attach the extra arms and legs to Klank.

  “Oh yeah!” says Klank. “Two times arms and two times legs make me two times human!”

  “Ummm, I don’t think it works like that,” says Janegoodall. “And also—”

  “Arms all set!” calls Frank.

  “Legs all set,” calls Klink.

  “Klank all set,” calls Klank.

  Frank plops a baseball into one of Klank’s four hands. “Watson! Come here. I want you . . . to catch. Klink, you record speeds.”

  Watson puts down his candy invention and picks up the catcher’s mitt.

  Klank flexes all his arms. “I am Two Times New, Improved Klank!”

  “Wonderful,” says Klink. “It is just a shame that your brain size could not be improved.”

  “Hey,” says Klank. “Is that a joke?”

  “Test One!” says Frank. “Klank, wind up and pitch a slow ball to Watson.”

  Klank bends all four of his arms in a double imitation of Janegoodall’s windup motion. He steps forward with his two left legs, windmills his two right arms, and pitches a perfect toss to Watson.

  “Great,” says Frank. “Now back up, really put all four of your arms into it, and try to pitch a little faster.”

  “Wait, wait, wait a minute,” says Watson. “I need some protection.” Watson digs through a pile of junk. “Hey, how about a catcher’s mask?”

  Frank punches out the bottom of a birdcage and hands it to Watson.

  “Awww, come on.”

  “It’s for Science,” says Frank. “And to help Janegoodall win the starting pitcher spot as our Midville Mud Hen ace.”

  Watson frowns, but he puts the birdcage on his head and latches the swinging door closed. He pounds the catcher’s mitt pocket. “OK. For Science. And for Janegoodall. Come on, bring the heat, Klank.”

  Klank winds up again. He pitches.


  “Ouch,” says Watson.

  “Fifty-five miles per hour,” reports Klink.

  “A little faster,” Frank directs.

  Klank winds up. And pitches.


  “Yowwwww!” yells Watson.

  “Sixty-five miles per hour.”

  “Full speed!” Frank calls.

  Klank winds up. Klank fires.


  “Seventy-five miles per hour.”

Yikes!” says Watson. “But also . . . oops.”

  “Brilliant,” says Janegoodall. “Just brilliant. But not so brilliant when Klank’s hand went seventy-five miles per hour along with the ball.”

  Frank Einstein checks Klank’s handless arm and shakes his head.

  “And,” adds Janegoodall, “there is no way you are sticking any extra arms or legs on me.”


  “All right! Who knocked this baseball into my lab, broke my roof, and wrecked my experiment?!”

  Mr. Chimp looks around the baseball diamond and sniffs.

  No one answers T. Edison because there is no one there.

  T. Edison walks around the pitcher’s mound. “Fresh marks in the dirt,” he observes. “Someone was just here.”

  Mr. Chimp knuckle-walks his way into the visitors’ dugout. He picks up a sunflower seed. He looks at it. He pinches it. He smells it. He pops it in his mouth.

  “Mmmmm,” says Mr. Chimp, tasting the salt.

  T. Edison stomps around the infield, looking for clues.

  Mr. Chimp cracks the sunflower seed between his top and bottom premolars. He spits out the empty sunflower shell with a satisfying p-tuuu sound.

  T. Edison crawls around home plate on his hands and knees. He holds a dirt-covered piece of bubble gum up in the light.

  “Aha! I can isolate the saliva from this gum, extract the DNA, match it to the DNA of everyone in Midville, and identify the glass-breaker!”

  Mr. Chimp leans back on the visitors’ bench. He picks up another sunflower seed, pops it in his mouth, and shakes his head.

  “What?” fumes T. Edison. “Yes, I can! Every living organism has DNA. It is a molecule that carries the instructions for how every organism is formed. It is what every organism uses to reproduce.”

  Mr. Chimp cracks the sunflower seed, this time using his incisors, and signs:

  T. Edison smacks his forehead and rants some more. “And as much as I hate to admit it, ninety-eight percent of human DNA is the same as chimpanzee DNA.”

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