Tony Repugno is your average boy. Okay, he’s not your average boy. In fact, Tony isn’t even a boy. He’s a slice of pizza that came to life after a freak lab mistake. His whole life, Tony has been stuck at home in order to keep his thin crust safe and avoid the mockery of being different. But after his father goes missing, Tony leaves the house and heads off on a wild adventure where he must save the city from a sentient robot monster. He’s not the hero they asked for. He’s probably not even the hero they need. But he’s the only hero that showed up today, so that counts for something, right? For years, Tony has wanted to be normal. Now, he’s about to learn that the very thing that makes him different might just be what saves the day.

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In case you’re wondering, I’m just like any other eleven-year-old boy. Well, except my hands are made of mozzarella. Oh, and instead of eating ice cream or hamburgers, I guzzle ranch dressing and plow through packets of Parmesan cheese.

Come to think of it, I’m probably not like any other boy you’ll meet. Technically, I’m not even a boy. I’m a slice of pizza. If you’re having a hard time believing that a slice of could write a book then you should leave right now, because, trust me, even more unbelievable things are about to happen. Bizarre things, like a giant ice-flinging sentient robot attacking our city.

So, I’m weird. I get that. But my dad is even more weird. I know every kid says this, but my dad wears the same white lab coat every single day. He refers to our rickety house on a hill as “a lair.” He has vials of glowing liquid and when he gets really excited, you’ll hear his maniacal laugh from across the house. See, my dad is the oldest child in the eleventh generation of a string of supervillains dating all the way back to the Middle Ages. We are the Repugno family.

He calls himself a “mad scientist,” but I’ve never seen him get mad or angry or even slightly irritated. Take this for example: when I was a tiny newborn slice of pizza and had just come to life, our refrigerator went missing. My dad’s response was, “Gee, I hope the people who stole my fridge didn’t hurt their backs. I mean, if you’re going to put in all that effort to steal a refrigerator, you must be in dire need of large household appliances.”

For years, my dad tried his hardest to be a villain. He spent his days making deadly devices. Well, they were supposed to be deadly, but they never quite turned out that way. One time he invented a shrink ray that was supposed to shrink the entire city. But then he felt bad about it and changed the settings so that it only shrunk people’s underwear. Don’t get me wrong. People totally freaked out when their underwear no longer fit right. Collectively, the whole town went on a diet. But when he saw the townspeople buying kale and quinoa, he felt bad about the stunt and returned the town’s underwear back to normal. He couldn’t bear to see the town reduced to eating kale.

His next big project involved creating an ooze that would make objects come to life and serve as his army of minions. This would be his chance to prove to his family once and for all that he was a true supervillain. It took him three years to perfect the potion. On a lazy summer afternoon, he placed a drop of the ooze on a stack of paper clips. They bounced around like grasshoppers, knocking down his beakers and getting tangled in his hair. That’s when he swatted away a particularly bouncy paperclip and accidentally dropped his lunch in the ooze.

By his lunch, I mean me. It sounds pretty sketchy when you think of it that way. But when I came to life as a petite pizza, I became something entirely different. See, he shoved his lunch in the refrigerator and tried to salvage any of the remaining ooze left on the table. After filling up the jar, he tossed a rag in the garbage can and opened the fridge. That’s when he saw me – a tiny shivering slice of pizza sitting in the fridge. He wrapped me up in a blanket – well, a napkin, which is sort of a blanket for pizza – and promised he would be the kind of father for me that his dad never was for him.

“I’ll never let anyone hurt you,” he promised.

From that day on, everything changed. The entire Repugno family disowned him for treating me like a son rather than a minion. My dad quit making deadly devices (which, again, had never actually been all that deadly) and instead used his engineering expertise to build intricate birdhouses. His mad genius has made him one of the foremost experts in aviary structures. If you need to identify a rare species of warbler, he’ll talk your head off about it. If you need a home for that warbler, then he’s definitely your man. But if you need him to take down a whole city, he’ll just smile politely and say, “That’s really not my thing but could I interest you in a birdhouse?” And you’ll probably feel so bad about asking him for villainous contraptions that you will fork over the money and buy a birdhouse.

As I grew older, my dad did everything in his power to keep me safe. When I say everything, I mean everything. I wanted to join the Boy Scouts but he reminded me that they were called Boy Scouts and not Pizza Scouts. When I wanted to play basketball, he told me that my thin crust would snap in half. So, I never played sports. I never rode a bike. I never rode a roller coaster. And I was pretty tall for a slice of pizza. I’m a solid five foot six inches right now. I wasn’t even allowed to watch most TV shows as a young pizza.

“Dad, can I watch the Care Bears?”

“Have you seen the show? Bears come down from their clouds and they’ve got those scary tattoos on their stomachs. And then they want to give you a hug? No thank you, how about we watch Bob Ross instead?”

“Dad, can I watch Dora the Explorer?”

“Dora walks around unsupervised. She gets chased by a polar bear. A fox robs her. That’s terribly violent, son. Why don’t we watch Bob Ross instead?”

“Dad, can I at least watch Barney?”

“Is that the one with the purple dinosaur?”

“Yeah, but he’s a safe dinosaur. He sings songs.”

“I bet he does . . . before he gets hungry. Then all bets are off. Do you want to watch children getting eaten by dinosaurs on live television?”

“I don’t think it’s live,” I pointed out. “I’m pretty sure it’s pre-recorded.”

“Well, it’s not happening on my watch. How about Bob Ross?”

“Hey dad, can I watch Strawberry Shortcake?”

“Those girls who live alone in confectionary cottages? They cook food unsupervised. They could get hurt. Plus all they eat is sweets. At that rate, they’ll die before they turn thirty. I can’t have you watch that. How about we watch Bob Ross instead?”

“Dad, can I watch Caillou?”

“Sorry buddy, but that boy is always so scared and angry and anxious. Poor guy. He’s so stressed out that he has gone bald before reaching the age of five. Why don’t watch . . .”

“Let me guess, Bob Ross?”

“How did you know?”

And for that reason, I have always been prevented from leaving lair. But all of that was about to change one fateful morning. Which I’ll be sharing tomorrow . . .

Discussion Questions

  1. What do you know so far about the main character, Tony Repugno?
  2. Tony Repugno doesn’t say it outright but he wants to feel like a normal kid. What are some clues that he feels this way?
  3. Why do you think Tony’s dad is so over-protective of Tony?
  4. Make a prediction about what will happen to get Tony out of the lair.