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"I see creatures in the school," Spencer insisted. "Some are slimy, some are furry, some have wings. I don't know why the rest of you can't see them. I'm trying to figure that out. I don't want to freak you guys out, but I had to tell you what I've seen."
Then, like an avalanche: laughter.
No one takes Spencer Zumbro seriously when he tried to warn his classmates about the mysterious things prowling the halls and classrooms of Welcher Elementary School. But when he sees Marv, the janitor, going after one of the creatures with a vacuum, he knows he's not the only one who can see them.
With the help of his new friends, Daisy, Spencer has to find out what the janitors know. The children's search uncovers the magic taking place behind the scenes of their seemingly ordinary school, where a battle is being waged for the minds of the students. Who can be trusted - and can Spencer and Daisy protect their school and possibly the world?
Nominated for the Sunshine State Book Award
"Janitors is very exciting! It has lots of surprises and plenty of magic. I'm screaming to read book 2!" — Erica, age 10
"I like Janitors a lot! It's a stay-up-late-and-read-until-I-finish-it kind of book." — Davin, age 11
“Entertaining . . . with plenty of twists and turns!” — Brandon Mull
“Spins plenty of action . . . an entertaining ruckus.” — Kirkus Review
“Action-packed and surprising! Readers will become convinced of the value of telling the truth, while having a lot of fun along the way.” — Publisher's Weekly
- Pages: 288
- Size: 5" x 7"
- Published: August 2011
- Book on CD: Unabridged
- Number of discs: 5
- Run Time: approx. 390 minutes
About the Author
Tyler Whitesides worked as a janitor at a middle school to put himself through college. It was there that 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 spending time in the mountains, cooking on the barbecue, and vacuuming. Tyler lives in Logan, Utah, with his wife, Connie, a third-grade teacher. Janitors is his first novel.
"You're Going to get an F."
Spencer shifted the papers on his school desk and looked for a hundredth time at the graffiti in the corner. Last year’s occupant of the desk must have spent hours etching the message into the wooden surface.
Dummy, Spencer thought. Couldn’t even spell cabbage.
Truth be told, Mrs. Natcher did smell a little like cabbage sometimes, but she was still tolerable. Today, however, a strong Bath and Body Works fragrance filled the sixth-grade classroom and Mrs. Natcher was nowhere to be seen.
In her place was a thin, younger woman who had short, stylish hair streaked with pink highlights. She wore high-heeled red shoes and a skirt so short that Mrs. Natcher would have croaked. Turned out that Mrs. Natcher had croaked—well, almost—which was why Miss Leslie Sharmelle had been called to Welcher Elementary that morning.
Spencer glanced at the clock on the wall. Only a half hour until lunch! The morning had flown by. After a lesson on geography, Miss Sharmelle had started the students creating maps of imaginary lands. Spencer traced a crooked line from his pencil-sketch mountains to the coast.
“Keep working on your maps, boys and girls,” Miss Sharmelle instructed. “I’ve got to buzz over to the copy machine for a sec.” With half a dozen papers in her hand and her heels click-clacking on the floor, she disappeared into the hallway.
Instinctively, Spencer swiveled his head to glance at Dez Rylie. Sure enough, there was already a soggy wad of paper coming out of the boy’s big mouth. Only a desk away, Spencer’s map was an easy target. But with the substitute out of the room, Dez wouldn’t settle for a small target like Spencer. Dez was going to spread the fun (and the spit) to everybody.
With a whoop, he tossed the mass of chewed paper into the air. It made a lazy arc across the room, showering everyone below with drops of Dez-juice. The spit bomb made a fast descent and landed with a splat on Jen McNeal’s new back-to-school shoes.
Jen screamed, jumping up and shaking her foot wildly. She danced in the aisle as though an army of ants had decided to bunk in her sock. The vigorous foot shaking sent out a spray of spit, and the wad dislodged, flinging sideways and skidding across Juan Rivera’s map. Desperate to save his island, Juan snatched up his map and flipped the spit wad forward.
The wad (no longer soggy, but still unpleasantly moist) rolled off Juan’s desk and quickly came to a halt between the backrest of the chair in front of him and the girl sitting in it. Instantly, she began to cry.
As the back half of the classroom erupted into chaos, Dez Rylie threw his head back and laughed at the ceiling. Spencer, who was still shielding his map, noticed that almost everyone else who wasn’t dancing, screaming, or crying was doing the same. Those who had escaped the first onslaught were watching Dez like rabbits in headlights.
Everyone except Gullible Gates.
Daisy Gates was seated in the front left corner of the classroom, far out of spit’s way. She might have been humming softly, as she often did, but there was too much noise in the room to be sure. One thick, sandy-colored braid reached halfway down her back. She sat hunched over the desk, her nose an inch away from the forest she was drawing. She scribbled more pine needles onto a tree, somehow oblivious to the upset in the room.
Dez scowled when he saw her. Spencer opened his mouth to shout a warning, but cringed, unwilling to make himself the target. Dez pushed himself out of his desk and tromped down the aisle, intentionally treading on somebody’s notebook that had fallen to the floor. The back of the room had quieted. Juan was holding his wrinkled map in front of the fan. Jen was alternately blotting off her shoe and drying the tears of her sobbing friend.
It wasn’t until Dez Rylie’s shadow fell on Daisy’s desk that she looked up. Seeing the bulky kid standing before her, she quickly looked down again, vigorously scrawling pine needles. Dez bent down to examine her work and the entire class held its breath. If Daisy had been humming before, she was definitely not doing it anymore. The clock ticked loudly. Twenty minutes to lunch.
“Nice map,” Dez said.
Daisy stopped drawing and looked up. A reluctant smile spread across her face. “Uh, thanks, Dez.”
“It looks pretty good . . . except for one thing.”
“What?” Daisy asked, looking at her map as though it had betrayed her.
“You weren’t listening when Miss Sharmelle told us about forests.” Dez’s fat finger pressed down on Daisy’s pine trees. “Forests can’t grow next to mountains. You’re going to get an F.”
Daisy sat stricken for a moment, then fumbled for her large pink eraser. With hasty movements that tore little marks in her paper, she scrubbed at her forest until it was nothing but a gray smudge next to the mountains.
Across the room, Spencer’s body tensed. That was wrong. Daisy’s forests could grow wherever they darn well pleased. Taking a deep breath, Spencer began to say “Daisy.” But all he could manage was “Dai” before Dez silenced him with a threatening glare. Spencer felt the “sy” catch in his throat and he swallowed it down.
“Where can I put my forest?” Daisy asked.
“Forests only grow on tiny little islands a hundred and two miles from the coast. In geography, we call them Gullible Islands.” Laughing, Dez snatched Daisy’s pencil and drew a big F at the top of her map.
“You’re so dead, Dez.” Jordan Height broke the silence. Jordan wasn’t as tall as Dez; no one in the class was. But Jordan was usually the first to stand up to the bully.
“Shut up, pretty boy,” Dez replied, folding his beefy arms.
“I mean it,” Jordan said. “Miss Sharmelle’s going to drag you to the principal’s office so fast.”
“I don’t care,” Dez shrugged. “In fact, I kinda hope so. Maybe Miss Sharmelle will hold my hand. She’s a hottie.”
The students gasped collectively and Spencer averted his eyes, ashamed to even be sharing air with Dez Rylie.
“You will be going to the office, Dezmond.” Miss Sharmelle’s voice cut through the gasps. She was in the doorway, a large stack of papers in her hand. Her face looked a little flushed, but not as red as Dez’s.
The bully turned to face her, regaining his composure. “Let’s go,” he said.
Miss Sharmelle crossed the room, set the papers on her desk, and returned to the open doorway where Dez was waiting for her with a stupid grin on his broad face.
“And no,” she punctuated, “I will not be holding your hand.”
by Melissa - reviewed on February 09, 2012
I am so excited about this book! I honestly enjoyed it far more than I expected. May I embarrassingly admit that I wasn't expecting much? I am embarrassed. Janitors is full of surprising turns and unexpected outcomes. My children were constantly asking for, "just one more chapter!" Mr. Whitesides has a bright future ahead as an author and we will continue to look forward to reading his books. For now, start with Janitors and prepare to enjoy it with your children!
You'll never look at a broom the same again!
by Stephanie - reviewed on November 11, 2011
First line: "Spencer shifted the papers on his school desk and looked for a hundredth time at the graffiti in the corner." I read Tyler's book to my kids at bedtime. Every night they were adamant we read it even at 11 PM (which I nixed)! They loved the characters, cleaning weapons and Toxites. My son wants to take it to school so his teacher can read it to the class. That's a huge compliment! I loved the clean, fast-paced writing. Lots of twists and play on words. With the tagline: 'you'll never look at a mop the same way again' Tyler is not kidding! The story kept us hooked from beginning to surprise ending. Not very happy with the cliffhangers, Mr. Whitesides! Did not see that one coming. My kids even gasped when I read it! Keep up the good work, Tyler! We are anxiously awaiting the second book. Even though I'm still mad at you for the cliffhanger... Rating: G V: Intense fighting moments, a friend disappears & presumed dead L: No S: Gross! No!
by TERRIE & DOUGLAS - reviewed on February 26, 2012
Had a great time getting caught up in the book. Can't wait for book 2.
FUN FUN READ!
by Shauna - reviewed on August 01, 2013
WHAT A FUN BOOK TO READ RIGHT BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS! There is a reason why kids have a hard time studying. There is a reason why kids fall asleep during school. There is a reason why kids get distracted at school. And it's NOT the kids fault. NO! Crazy creatures run around the school secretly causing all kinds of problems. They have been unseen until the day that Spencer accidentally used the magic soap. Now he can see them. And he learns that the janitors have been there all along helping in the fight. Join Spencer and Daisy as they train with the janitors to help protect the school and the kids who attend there. FUN FUN READ! PERFECT for the whole family!
I'm glad I read it!
by Chase - reviewed on October 27, 2011
This is a great and exciting book that I would definitely recommend to young teens. It is an easy and captivating read. I sure wish I had a glopified mop!
Absolutely recommend this!
by Rachel - reviewed on December 26, 2011
Probably one of the best pre-teen or teen book I have read. Not only were the young heroes interesting, smart, and resourceful, but the adults weren't portrayed as stupid, mean, or ignorant. They were careful of the children's safety, and the parents were loving and supportive. Whitesides captures the interest and imagination, and I would give anything he writes to my children to read.