Invasion of the Nose Pickers


From the book:

The drive to New York took four hours, just about the same as Calhoun Gorge. Then, right outside the city, we got stuck in the biggest traffic jam I've ever seen.
Stan loved it. Pants have some pretty bizarre tastes. He was staring out the window, mesmerized by the scene all around us. It was like a giant parking lot. "This is fantastic," he raved. "Sitting for hours, yet barely moving! It's almost as thrilling as going to the dentist!"
"We're not here to enjoy the traffic," I reminded him in a low voice. "How are we going to find the Humongous?"
Stan shrugged. "How difficult can it be to locate a two-hundred-foot green robot? It can't exactly blend into the scenery, you know. Oh, look. That cement mixer just cut us off. What fun!"
At last, we made it through the tunnel and onto the busy streets of Manhattan. Even I have to admit it was pretty cool -- pounding on the bus windows, waving at all the taxis and limos that swarmed around us, and gawking up at the tall buildings.
Stan wasn't very impressed. "You told me New York had skyscrapers."
I stared at him. "Are you kidding me? The World Trade Center towers alone are over a hundred and ten stories high."
"That wouldn't even come close to scraping the sky, " he harrumphed. "On Pan, our tallest building, the Levi Strauss Center, is over four billion stories in height. The Designer Jeans had to run the elevator through a hyperspace shortcut or else it would take three weeks to get to the top."
Since all we had was camping equipment, our driver took us to Central Park. We stopped in a wide grassy field called the Great Lawn. Then came the hard part -- setting up our tent. In no time, Tanner Phelps had somehow zipped his jacket into the zipper door. Calista was wrapped up in so much canvas that she looked like a mummy. Joey Petrillo held the stake steady for Ralph O'Malley to pound in.
Wham! Ralph swung the mallet down with crushing force onto Joey's thumb.
And then Stan put his finger in his nose. With a whoosh, a great wind billowed from under the canvas, standing the big tent upright. Calista was demummified and launched right into the arms of a bewildered Mr. Slomin. The poles snapped smartly into place, and the stakes jumped up and hammered themselves into the ground.
We rushed to free Tanner, who was hanging by his jacket, still zipped to the front entrance flap.
There were oohs and aahs from the class. Stan's nose computer had added a few extras to the tent, like a basketball hoop, a weather vane, and a welcome mat. A flock of city pigeons descended on the bird feeder.
I was impressed. Even at low power, the Crease sure could put on a show.
Mr. Slomin was confused, but he was still ready to take credit for what had happened -- whatever that was.
"Uh -- excellent work, people," he said approvingly, in a shaky voice. "I told you I could get this tent up."
We watched as a police car pulled up behind the bus. A tall uniformed officer got out and approached the teacher.
"Hey, pal, what do you think you're doing? There's no camping here."
"But -- but --" Poor Mr. Slomin had spent most of the day in a state of confusion, and things didn't make any more sense now. At a loss for words, he showed the officer our trip itinerary. The cop radioed the station house, and sure enough, a fourth-grade class from Clearview Elementary School had special permission to camp on the Great Lawn of Central Park for the next three days.
"Darnedest thing," the officer told Mr. Slomin. "I've been a cop here for thirty years, and no one's ever been allowed to do this. You folks must have a lot of clout. Is the governor's kid in this class or something?"
"Nope. Just a normal group of fourth graders, " replied Mr. Slomin.
Plus one galactic travel agent with a magic nose, I thought.

Copyright © 2000 Gordon Korman used by permission

The score is Devin three, Pan zero, but now its time for sudden death -- literally! Devin and his friend Stan (who looks like a ten-year-old, but is actually over 150 and a travel agent from the planet Pan) have managed to get the Earth named Pan's number one tourist destination, and solve various other problems posed by the strange outer-space culture, but suddenly the Earth is in a heap of trouble!

Somebody is draining the Crease, the source of all Pan's power, and they are somehow doing it from Earth. Devin and Stan hi-jack a school camping trip and take them to New York City, the source of the unauthorized power drain, but they have only a couple of days to find and stop the culprit before the Pants turn the whole Earth inside out.

Will Devin and Stan be able to save the Earth? Of course! There's always a happy ending the Gordon Korman's books. But the fun part is always seeing how you'll reach that point. And the humor for this particular title is as strange as any in the Nose Picker books!