Chapter One: Franny's House
The Stein family lived in a pretty pink house with lovely purple shutters down at the end of Daffodil Street. Everything about the house was bright and cheery. Everything, that is, except the bedroom behind the tiny, round upstairs window.
This was Franny's bedroom, and she loved it more than anyplace else in the whole world, because this was where she came up with some of the most exciting new ideas in mad science.
But, as is often case for mad scientists, it was impossible to get her friends and family to take her work seriously.
Like when Franny presented her recently perfected Personal Cow to her father.
"Hey, Dad. Have a look at this. I genetically engineered a real cow for the portability that today's baby-on-the-go demands. See? Fresh milk anywhere."
"That's nice, Franny," he said without even looking up from his newspaper.
Or when Franny tried to show off her just-debugged Biggerizer to her little brother, Freddy.
"One blast from this device can make things hundreds of times bigger," Franny declared proudly.
"Can you use it in reverse and make your mouth smaller?" Freddy asked.
Franny answered, "It doesn't have a reverse setting. It only makes things bigger, but that's not a bad idea...." Before she could finish, he leapt on his skateboard and, with one swift push, rocketed out of sight.
Or when Franny called Percy, one of her new friends from school, to announce her new Manifester. "You put a picture of something in front of it, flip the switch, and -- ZAP! -- it creates a real three-dimensional reproduction of it."
"Did you ever put ketchup on corn chips?" Percy asked witlessly.
Franny blinked. "Ketchup on corn chips? Did you hear a single word I said, Percy? The Manifester actually makes real things from pictures and pictures from real things. It's total madness."
"I like corn chips," he said, and Franny hung up the phone.
Franny's mom had been watching and she felt bad for Franny.
She might not have chosen to have a mad scientist for a daughter, but that's what Franny was.
And since that's what Franny was, her mom had spent a lot of time trying to learn about mad scientists.
One of the things she learned was this: Mad scientists need assistants to whom they can show their tiny cows, weird devices, and crazy gizmos, assistants who were always excited and who always listened.