Billy Sure and Manny Reyes switch jobs at Sure Things, Inc. in the eleventh book of a hilarious middle grade series!
Meet Manny Reyes, inventor and CEO of Sure Things, Inc….wait, what?!
It’s a friendly switcheroo at Sure Things, Inc.! Manny decides to roll out Sure Things, Inc.’s Next Big Thing—the Candy Toothbrush. Of course every good inventor needs a good CFO, so Billy steps up to the plate. But is Manny a better kid inventor than Billy? And does Sure Things, Inc. have room for the both of them?
Find out in this wacky story with funny black-and-white illustrations throughout.
Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur vs. Manny Reyes Kid Entrepreneur Summer Vacation in the Sandbox MY NAME IS BILLY SURE. As of today, I can officially say I am no longer a seventh-grader at Fillmore Middle School. No, I’m not moving—though my family almost moved to Italy not too long ago (long story). I can say that because I’m now an eighth-grader at Fillmore Middle School!
Well, as my sister Emily might tell you, I’m not technically an eighth-grader yet, because it’s still the summer before eighth grade, but I’m going to go ahead and call myself that anyway. You’ve got to celebrate the small things, right?
Anyway, it feels like just yesterday was the first day of seventh grade, when I went back to school after my first invention, the ALL BALL, went on sale. For as long as I can remember, I have always been coming up with invention ideas. It used to be a hobby, but together with my best friend Manny, we founded an invention company—Sure Things, Inc. I am the CEO and do the inventing, and Manny is the CFO, or Chief Financial Officer, and does the marketing, sales, and a whole lot of other cool stuff I don’t really understand. That’s how it’s always been, and how it’s always going to be!
Still, it’s kind of crazy to think it’s been almost a year since Sure Things, Inc. started. And it’s also kind of crazy to think that today, summer vacation has started! Which means I can spend my days relaxing, taking my dog Philo on long walks, and, oh yeah, being a normal thirteen-year-old kid.
Just as I’m thinking about all of this, Ping! there’s a notification on my laptop screen. I have an important e-mail to read.
Oh no, I think. I hope everything is okay with the Everything Locator. The EVERYTHING LOCATOR is Sure Things, Inc.’s newest invention, and I think it’s going to be our biggest hit yet.
I sign into my account and brace myself. But phew. The notification wasn’t from Manny saying that our invention is doomed. It’s from the makers of Sandbox XXL, only the very best video game in the world!
Dear Billy Sure,
Congratulations! You are now officially set up with a player account for Sandbox XXL, everyone’s favorite action-packed adventure. Please download the game at the link below. Have fun, and remember, in this game it’s good to have your head in the sand!
Remember when I said I want to be a normal thirteen-year-old kid? Well, scratch that! I’m not a normal thirteen-year-old kid—I’m a thirteen-year-old kid with access to Sandbox XXL!
I’ve been on this video game’s wait list for months, and I can’t believe it’s finally my time to play.
Just as I download it and the game starts to install, I hear a voice from outside my door.
“Billy!” says the voice.
That’s my mom.
“Billy, have you finished unpacking?” Mom asks, peeking into my room.
I groan. Yeah, unpacking. Remember when I said that my family almost moved to Italy? Well, we cut it pretty close. My dad is an artist, and he was offered a job to do a series of paintings at a gallery over there. We had everything packed and ready to go—until Manny and I discovered that the art commissioner wasn’t a real art commissioner, she was actually the CEO of our rival invention company, Nat Definite, and it was all a ruse to get me out of the inventing biz! Thankfully we made a deal with her—she still had to commission Dad for some art, but he could do it right here at home. Case closed, right?
Not so much. Because thanks to Nat’s alter ego, “Tali DeCiso,” I now have a huge chore ahead of me—unpacking.
“I’ll start that now, Mom,” I say, looking sadly at my computer screen. How can my inventing rival still be messing up my life?
I spend some time emptying the last few boxes and put stuff back where it belongs. My dog, Philo, curls up on a pile of stinky socks that I unpack. I’m not sure why the socks are stinky and I definitely don’t understand why Philo wants to sleep on them. Thanks for all the help, Philo, I think.
I go throughout the house putting things back, like my bathroom towels in the bathroom.
In the kitchen I see Dad’s artist’s lamp sitting on the counter in the exact spot where the blender should be. So what’s in Dad’s art studio? I think.
Curiosity gets the better of me and I head out of the house to his art studio, which is conveniently located in the garden shed.
Aha! Neatly poised above Dad’s drawing board is the missing blender!
I guess Dad got a bit confused while he was unpacking, I think.
I head into the house and back up to my room. As I pass the bathroom I see a spatula sitting in the toothbrush holder.
Oh no, I think, realizing Dad made breakfast earlier today. What did he use to cook with?
Finally, after an hour of unpacking, I settle down in front of my computer and enter the world of Sandbox XXL!
The game starts off simply enough. I get to create my avatar, which of course looks just like me only . . . Sandbox XXL–like.
I build my house—which looks a lot like a medieval castle—and walk around until I run into a GIANT SAND MONSTER who charges right at me!!!
I race to the water and dive into the ocean. Knowing he will be instantly dissolved if he follows, the sand monster roars in anger, waving his dusty fist at me. Unfortunately, I know that the game won’t let me stay in the ocean forever. After a few more seconds a giant wave approaches from behind.
If I stay in the water I’ll get crushed by the wave. If I go back out onto the beach, the sand monster will get me. There’s only one thing to do. I must control the huge wave of water and direct it onto the sand monster.
Just a video game, I remind myself. Nothing to be afraid of.
I start using the arrow keys on my keyboard, and I don’t think my reflexes have worked this fast ever. Up, down, up, left, left, across, side—
I hardly notice the time, but suddenly two hours have passed.
“Billy! Dinnertime!” Dad calls.
“I’m not hungry,” I call back, pausing the game midbattle. I don’t even want to imagine what toothbrush-infested food Dad has managed to cook up.
Then I hear my mom’s voice.
“It’s Chinese takeout,” she calls.
CHINESE TAKEOUT? Well, that’s an eggroll of a different color. There are very few things more important than defeating a giant sand monster. Chinese takeout is one of them!
Leaving the game paused, I scramble downstairs. On my way to the kitchen I pass through the living room and see that the vacuum cleaner is sitting on the TV stand. I wonder where the TV could be?
Shrugging, I head to the kitchen and take a seat. Boxes of Chinese food are spread out across the table. I grab the biggest box, dump a huge helping of lo mein onto my plate, and start shoveling noodles into my mouth.
“I have to admit, I’m glad we didn’t move to Italy,” says Mom, pouring some wonton soup into a bowl. “Lots of lasagna, but we would have missed the food from here!”
I nod and moan my agreement, lo mein dangling from my mouth. Everyone looks at my older sister Emily, waiting for her to comment—something that is always unpredictable—but she says nothing.
“And I am COMPLETELY UNPACKED!” Dad says proudly, dumping a pile of fried rice onto his plate.
I wonder if he knows just how bad of a job he did with the unpacking.
I reach in to grab an egg roll. That’s when I realize that not only is Emily quiet, but she also hasn’t had a single bite of food or even taken any to eat. Her plate is completely clean.
Of course, the less Emily eats, the more there is for me, but it’s still weird since Emily loves Chinese food. She sits at the other end of the table, arms crossed in front of her. I wonder what she’s grumpy about today.
“Come on, Em, at least try the lo mein,” Mom says. “The noodles are soft.”
Emily grunts but remains tight-lipped.
Maybe this is just Emily’s latest “thing,” I think. My sister is known for her “things.” Let’s see . . . some of Emily’s things have included wearing glasses without lenses, speaking only in a British accent, painting each of her fingernails different colors, and her latest (before whatever this one is now)—using random Italian words incorrectly when she thought we were all moving to Italy.
After my fourth helping of lo mein, I’m full. I help clear the table. When I’m done, I head upstairs to resume my game. It’s time for level two where I’ll have to defeat the EVIL SUPER SAND FLY STORM!
Luke Sharpe is not a millionaire, but he has been trying to invent a machine that can teleport people anywhere in the world since he was eight years old. He has so far been unsuccessful but he has vowed never to give up. When he isn’t working, Luke enjoys Hawaiian pizza and skateboarding. He lives near Chicago with his wife and son (named Billy, of course), their gecko, Eddie, and their aquarium full of exotic fish.
Graham Ross has grand plans for world domination through his illustrated inventions. Right now he’s having a “ball” hanging out with Billy Sure, the next sure thing! Graham lives in a little log home in the woods with his inventive family, just outside of Merrickville, Canada.