Janitors, Book 3: The Curse of the Broomstaff (Hardcover)
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A secret society of Janitors with wizard-like powers continue their battle, and now, the stakes are even higher.
The Bureau of Educational Maintenance is after Alan Zumbro and this time they mean business—deadly business. Spencer, Daisy, and their little team of rebels must find the source of all magical Glop and destroy it before it can destroy the world as we know it. No small task with the BEM and their monster toxites at their heels. It’s a wild and dangerous ride as they follow the trail of clues all the way to the hiding place of the mysterious aurans: guardians of a secret landfill. What they discover there will change the way Spencer sees himself, not to mention the fate of the rebels.
Praise for the Janitors series:
“An enormously entertaining book.” —Orson Scott Card
“Spins plenty of action . . . an entertaining ruckus.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Action-packed and surprising! Readers will become convinced of the value of telling the truth, while having a lot of fun along the way.” —Publishers Weekly
“Entertaining . . . with plenty of twists and turns.”—Brandon Mull, author of Fablehaven and Beyonders series
- Size: 5" x 7"
- Pages: 360
- Year Published: 2013
- Book on CD: Unabridged, 7 discs
- Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60907-874-4
About the Author
TYLER WHITESIDES worked as a janitor at a middle school while attending college. It was there he discovered the many secrets and mysteries that can be hidden in a dusty school. Tyler graduated from Utah State University with a degree in music. He enjoys fly fishing in the mountains, cooking, and vacuuming. Tyler and his wife, Connie, live in beautiful northern Utah.
“The Clean way.”
Mrs. Natcher’s chalk squeaked against the board, and Spencer shuddered at the sound. The teacher stepped away from the chalkboard so the students could see what she’d drawn. It was another story problem. And this time there was a pie chart to go with it.
Why did Mrs. Natcher have to ruin pie by turning it into a math problem?
Spencer sighed and picked up his pencil. He finished the problem quickly and still had time to double-check his work.
Class was different without Dez. Spencer found that it was much easier to finish his assignments without the bully’s grubby hands poking him. Dez’s absence, under any other conditions, would have been a great relief. But Spencer was troubled.
Three months had passed without any word from Dez. Under Slick’s persuasion, the bully had stayed at New Forest Academy. But Slick was long gone, eaten by his own overgrown Grime. So what was keeping Dez from coming home? Had the bully given in to the BEM? Was he truly one of them now?
Glancing around the classroom, Spencer saw that he was practically the first student finished with the pie chart problem. Daisy sat a few desks away, her nose an inch off the math notebook as she scribbled out numbers.
Spencer sighed as he thought through the rest of his day. It was Max’s fourth birthday. Spencer’s mom would be busy planning a party for his little brother. They’d have cake. But Max would probably slobber when he blew out the candles, getting his germs all over, so Spencer probably wouldn’t eat any.
Life had actually become quite boring lately. If it weren’t for his bronze visions, Spencer would feel completely left out of what the Rebel Underground was doing. Ever since Walter had escaped through the woods around New Forest Academy, Spencer liked to check on the old warlock. Just to make sure everything was all right.
Spencer’s hand drifted to his left pocket. He knew he shouldn’t do it. Not during class. But a quick checkup wouldn’t take long. Spencer could be back before Mrs. Natcher sliced the pie chart.
Spencer plunged his hand into his pocket, his fingers slowly lowering to the object concealed there. It was an old high school swimming medal that his sister had bought at a yard sale. It wasn’t gold or silver. It was third place—bronze.
Spencer’s hand closed around the cold medallion. He tried to keep a casual gaze forward, but almost immediately, Mrs. Natcher and the chalkboard were blurred away in a blizzard of white. It spread, consuming his entire vision, until it fell away, point by blinding point.
He stood in a parking lot only fifty-two miles west of Welcher Elementary. Spencer tried to remain calm. His power was still new and, in many ways, uncontrollable. Even though he’d been able to increase the length of his warlock visions, Spencer still didn’t know who he would be spying on at any given time. He had hoped for a glimpse of Walter, but the man in the parking lot was too broad and tall.
Spencer knew at once who it was.
The man was Mr. Clean, the president of the BEM and the most mysterious of the three warlocks. The name was clearly an alias, which prevented Walter from discovering his true identity or anything about Mr. Clean’s past.
Spencer had seen through Mr. Clean’s eyes a number of times. The warlock was usually at his BEM office in Washington, DC, causing everyone nearby to cower in fear. But not this time. What was Mr. Clean doing in Idaho, standing in the parking lot of a prison?
The sun was brilliant, sparkling on the mounds of snow at the edge of the parking lot. The warlock looked down, his breath billowing in the frosty February morning. He was wearing a long white lab coat, but as his gloved hand moved the lapel aside, Spencer saw that something was attached to his belt.
It was a large black battery pack with a dial in the center. Plugged into one end was a thick orange extension cord. Mr. Clean’s eyes followed the trailing cord, and as he looked over his shoulder, Spencer gasped.
Not three feet behind the warlock crouched a gigantic Filth. The rodent’s face was downturned, its hideous buckteeth jutting crookedly from a slobbering mouth. It was purring softly, a deep-throated, phlegmy sound that caused the deadly sharp quills on its back to rise and fall.
The other end of the cord was nestled into the monster’s dingy fur, plugging into the gray flesh near the spine. The Filth’s eyes were half closed and the beast pulsated lazily as energy flowed through the extension cord and into the creature’s body.
The warlock did not seem the least bit terrified that an overgrown Toxite was breathing down his neck in the open parking lot. In fact, the broad man reached out a gloved hand and stroked the creature’s muzzle.
Then, with a blur of movement, the man leapt into the air, his white lab coat swinging wide. To Spencer’s surprise, the warlock landed atop the huge Filth, straddling it like a warhorse. The Filth made no reaction, completely contented, apparently due to the energy coming through the cord.
The warlock adjusted his weight, and Spencer noticed that there was a floor mat draped across the Filth’s back like some kind of primitive saddle. The man’s hand dropped to the battery pack at his waist. As soon as he twisted the dial, the Filth roared to life.
The huge creature leapt forward, bounding across the parking lot with a snarl. When it reached the doors of the prison, the Toxite lowered its broad head. Spencer flinched at the sound as both doors were ripped open, the Toxite and rider tumbling into the reception area. The Filth stomped its clawed feet, shaking broken glass from its fur as the alarm blared.
There was a uniformed woman behind the reception desk. She sprang from her seat, fumbling to draw her gun. The warlock and his beast paused in the center of the room, reveling in the chaos they had just created.
In seconds, the reception area was swarming with armed guards. But Spencer couldn’t understand what was happening. The guards raced past the warlock, inspecting the walls and shattered doors. Of course they wouldn’t be able to see the huge Toxite, but had Mr. Clean somehow made himself invisible as well?
“Was it a bomb?” asked the uniformed woman.
The warlock drew a deep breath. “No,” Mr. Clean said aloud. Every guard turned, pistols aimed randomly across the room. “It was a phantom.”
Then, with terrifying speed, both gloved hands plunged into his lab coat. Two plastic spray bottles flashed from concealment. He took aim and pulled the triggers.
It was over in a moment. A drip of green solution glistened on the nozzle of each spray bottle, and an emerald mist hung in the room. The guards collapsed into a heap on the hard floor, their guns slipping from limp hands.
Spencer felt a stab of fear pass through him. He was aware of himself, sitting stock straight in his school desk, hand gripping the bronze medallion so tightly that the edge dug into his palm. He wanted to let go, to end the vision on his terms. But the fallen security guards, the green spray, the warlock atop that fearsome creature . . .
Mr. Clean twisted his head from side to side in satisfaction, his neck popping from the motion. The reception area was littered with bodies—all of them trained security guards, but none of them a match for the warlock in the white coat.
The big man touched the dial on his belt, and the Filth moved away from the wreckage. They walked down the hallway, the warlock holding his spray bottles like dual pistols in his gloved hands.
In a moment, Mr. Clean had found the cell he was looking for. He twisted the dial and dismounted the giant Filth in the middle of the hall, keeping the extension cord stretched between them. Peering through the bars, Spencer saw the limited contents of the cell. Curled upon the bed was a figure in an orange jumpsuit.
“Knock, knock,” the warlock whispered through the bars.
The startled prisoner leapt from the bed, tripped in surprise, and came to rest on her knees not three feet away. Her thin face upturned, she stared through the bars.
It was Leslie Sharmelle!
Spencer’s breath caught when he recognized her. Leslie Sharmelle! She was a BEM worker who had substituted for Mrs. Natcher at the beginning of the year. Leslie was the one who had teamed up with Garth Hadley to get Spencer involved with the BEM. She had survived the Vortex, but the classroom had collapsed on her. Walter had framed her for the accident, and once she was released from the hospital she had gone to jail.Leslie Sharmelle!
Now she knelt before the mysterious warlock. And with fear and respect in her eyes, she muttered his name.
“Aren’t you going to invite me in?”
Leslie swallowed hard. “You . . . you have the key?”
“Why would I need a key,” Mr. Clean asked, “when I have this?”
His fingers turned the dial on the battery pack, and the Filth bellowed. Leslie jumped away from the bars, but it was too late. The creature had already caught sight of her.
Mr. Clean stepped aside as the Filth sprang at the cell bars. Its jaws snapped through the metal. Clawed toes scraped, bending and twisting the bars aside. In less than a heartbeat, the Filth was inside the cell.
In panicked shock, Leslie collapsed against the back wall, shielding her face as fragments of metal fell around her. Her hands reached out and she screamed as the slavering jowls of the beast opened to destroy her.
But the Filth did not bite. It bowed its head in relaxation as a surge of electricity flowed down the Glopified extension cord. Mr. Clean stepped through the twisted bars and approached the cowering woman.
“I see you’ve met the Bureau’s newest weapon,” the warlock said, one hand scratching the creature behind the ears. “An Extension Filth.”
Leslie did not move from her place against the wall, the Filth’s face inches from hers. Mr. Clean reached out for her. Leslie put her thin hand into his, carefully sliding away from the huge Filth as he hoisted her up.
The warlock drew a strip of gray cloth from his white lab coat. “Do you know what this is?” he asked. “It is the cuff of a shirtsleeve, ripped from the arm of a very elusive man.” He held up the scrap. “But I’m about to make sure that he never escapes again.”
Mr. Clean paused. For a moment, Spencer was afraid that the man had somehow detected his spying eyes. Then the warlock continued, his voice metered and steady. “You’re going to bring me Alan Zumbro—dead or alive.”
Spencer almost lost contact, his hand slipping on the bronze medal in his pocket. He forced himself to linger in the vision a moment longer, to face Mr. Clean’s terrible pronouncement.
Leslie wrinkled her forehead. “I thought Alan was—”
“The Rebels rescued him,” the warlock cut her off. “But he doesn’t have the package. He’s out there now, looking for it.”
“Where?” Leslie asked.
Mr. Clean approached the Extension Filth. He adjusted the dial on the battery pack just enough to cause the creature’s head to perk up. Then he lowered the scrap of cloth to the beast’s nose.
The Toxite inhaled sharply, its slit nostrils opening wide to take in the scent. Then the warlock dropped his hand lower. The Filth’s coarse tongue emerged and the razor teeth snapped together, Mr. Clean barely pulling away his hand in time. The creature chewed noisily on the scrap of cloth and then swallowed.
“All is ready now,” said the warlock. “The Extension Filth has been baited.”
“So your beast will lead me to Alan?”
Mr. Clean laughed. “It’s not my beast.” He unclipped the belt and battery pack. “It’s yours.” He held the items out. “On its own, an Extension Toxite is reckless. Plug it in, wear the battery pack, and you have the power to control it. Saddle up, Leslie. Become a Plugger.”myyours.
With shaking hands, Leslie Sharmelle accepted the pack. She turned to the huge Filth, and Spencer could see her reluctance to climb onto its back.
“I have a gang of Pluggers waiting to meet you at the edge of town,” Mr. Clean said. “They will teach you to control your beast and prepare you for the manhunt.”
The big warlock stepped away, passing through the wrecked bars. “I’m trusting you to prove yourself,” he said. “To do better than your previous assignment.” Mr. Clean turned away from the cell. “If you fail me again, Leslie, there will be no forgiveness. I’ll have no choice but to deal with you . . . the Clean way.”Clean
I never knew garbage could be this much fun!
by Heidi - reviewed on September 16, 2013
Whitesides has done it again. Curse of the Broomstaff is another creative, delightful read with plenty of excitement and new characters. The way the author takes janitorial supplies and turns them into different types of tools makes for fun reading. Windex turns things into glass, orange cleaning spray heals, and the razorblade that turns into a sword are just a few of the new items seen in book 3. Bernard Weizmann makes an appearance as a garbologist, someone who reads trash the way a dog reads scents with his nose. And who would have expected a garbage truck as a getaway vehicle. With enough fight scenes to satisfy even the most demanding reader, the book moves at a brisk pace as Spencer and his father, Walter, Daisy, Penny, and Bernard set off to locate the other Aurans and hopefully discover the source of all Glop. It turns out that Toxites (which suck up children's brainwaves) come directly from Glop and if the source can be destroyed maybe Toxites can be too. But what will happen if the Aurans don't want the Glop destroyed? And can Spencer and the others take on the new extension toxites and their riders, called Pluggers? A wonderful addition to the series, sure to be popular where middle grade fantasy is enjoyed.
Janitors Are Amazing People, My 10 year-old says
by Rachelle - reviewed on September 18, 2013
Ever have a hard time finding that perfect book to hold your child's interest? Well Tyler Whitesides has written 3 marvelous stories that you child will devour! First off, I must share that my daughter says, "Magical creatures are awesome!" She also loved that the kids in the stories have special tools--janitor tools that are magic, including glop. I think that sounds fantastic! She said it is a good book for kids because the janitors preserve education--evil creatures try to take it away! I love it when my kids can grasp a take-away from a book like that. Last year, we purchased Janitors, Book 1 for my daughter's 4th grade teacher and she read it to the class. According to report, the kids begged the teacher to keep reading every day. They LOVED Janitors by Tyler Whitesides! The latest book is here and the cover had my kids ogling over it for a good long time. Tyler Whitesides is a phenom children's author with a clean writing style that lends easily to a fantastical world full of heroic janitors who conquer evil. You'll never look at a mop in the same way! I witnessed my daughter (5th grader now) read this book for an hour and a half straight. She took every opportunity to finish the captivating story.
Love the way this author writes!
by Cathy - reviewed on September 09, 2013
Oh my gosh! I love the way Tyler Whitesides writes. This book drew me in from the very first page and I didn't want to put it down! I love the way the story is action packed from one crazy situation to the next. I love that Spencer and Daisy are the heroes, even though there are capable adults around, they are the ones that come out on top. I love the crazy fantasy world that Tyler Whitesides has created. The mythical characters are amazing. I'm really glad that the ending of this book leaves you hanging, yeah for more Janitor's books! This series is written for middle grade kids, but even adults will enjoy this action packed series.
by Shauna - reviewed on September 09, 2013
This series just continues to AMAZE and IMPRESS me! What a FUN, FUN story line! Amazing IMAGINATION! Wonderful use of GARBAGE! How many books can claim that :) LOVE LOVE LOVE this series! Spencer, Daisy and the team of rebels have found the "package." Now they must come together and seek out the source of the magical Glop and destroy it. Join them on their wild and dangerous journey as they follow lead after lead and clue after clue. Sometimes they will get stuck and have to use those wonderful janitorial supplies. And along the way Spenser will have to face the "curse of the broomstaff." AN INCREDIBLE, FUN-FILLED, ACTION-PACKED STORY! PERFECT FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!
Fast paced adventure
by rhonda - reviewed on September 08, 2013
4 STARS This is book 3 in the series and the only one that I have read. I expect that if you had read the firsts two books it would be better, but I was able to understand the book by itself. I have to agree with the author that this is a very trashy book. It deals with a dump truck, part of it is in a landfill even one of the good guys likes to dive into trash cans. This setting is gross I am glad that this book does not smell. Kids probably have more fun with the settings. Like food fight, getting flushed down a toilet and dump with trash monsters. Besides the yuck factors you smile a lot while reading the Broomstaff. The characters are well written. Makes you want to root for them to save education. Spencer and Daisy are in elementary school. They leave school because Spencer saw a vision and he needs to let his father know. They are caught and are suspended for the rest of the month. They are part of rebels to help save education from toxites who make children fall asleep in school, and not want to learn. Their are wizards, some good some bad. Their weapons are janitors items that have been magic, like brooms, plungers and air freshners. The book is full of action, fights with different creatures, using magic. Lots of good and bad. Some you are not sure who to trust. It is a fun book to read. Fast paced never dull. It also has some good messages in it. I would read the next book in the series or even catch up on the two that came before. I was given this ebook and asked to give honest review of by NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing. 09/10/2013 Pub. Shadow Mountain Publishing 360 pages ISBN: 9781609076054
Lots of fun.....and garbage!
by Monica - reviewed on September 12, 2013
I really enjoyed this book. It is my favorite of the series. I liked how the Rebels followed the clues and how all the clues together played a part in them getting into the landfill. I thought Spencer's character grew a lot in this book, which was fun to watch. I always love Daisy's antics, and I love Penny. I also thought Barnard was a fun addition to the Rebels. I thought the creatures in the landfill were very creative and added some fun, and some not so fun, twists to the story line. I'm still not sure about the Aurans....are they good? Are they bad? I did not like the Pluggers, and I definitely do not want to meet one of those. Ever. I loved the new glopified weapons introduced in this book, and I would love to have one of those brooms. I went into this book thinking it would be the last in the series, but now.....there better be at least one more! This book is clean except for the characters fighting the BEM and the toxites. I recommend it for third grade and up. My boys are in sixth and fifth grades and love this series. You may read my full review on my book blog: www.the-readathon.blogspot.com.
Super fun read!
by Erika - reviewed on August 11, 2013
Definitely the best Janitors yet! The writing is just getting better and I think that now that the characters have been established they are becoming more deep and complex and fun. I think what I like most about these books is the insane imagination put into them. Plungers, broomsticks, air freshener, even Windex all become magical! I especially liked that Windex-it can turn things into glass! There's characters who LOVE garbage and get stoked about landfills. There's witches and warlocks and evil organizations. I think that kids are going to eat this story up! And maybe take out the trash! ;)