"Your first doomsday machine is a malevolent, inscrutable wristwatch.”The Please Don't Tell My Parents series, by Richard Roberts, is a wonderful young adult series of novels about Penelope Akk and her two friends Claire and Ray. They are normal middle school kids just hoping their superpowers will kick in soon.
This series is set in a world where supervillains and superheroes coincidentally just exist. Penny, is hoping to get her father’s super brain or her mother’s super analytical skills. Yes her Mom’s powers include analysis, and it is glorious and dangerous strength.
When Penny does finally gets her superpowers, she gets to be a kick-butt mad scientist with the power to invent anything she can imagine. She's excited to finally be able to superhero like her parents, but is unfortunately frustrated by a twist of fate that leaves the world mistakenly viewing her as a supervillain. Luckily for us readers, Penny (Bad Penny) is a really. Really. Great. Supervillain.
This series of books is not just for kids, but is absolutely spot-on for adult types as well. These are the types of novels that get younger girls and boys into reading! The writing is sharp, wry, funny, and in a picture-perfect voice of the 12-year-old narrator. There is almost no realistic violence and no sex at all in these books, which is great because so little Young Adult Fiction is suitable for our younger readers of eight or nine years old -- kids who want to read “real books,” but whose parents may not want to have them exposed too soon to the heartbreak and terror of the Hunger Games or even the final books in the Harry Potter series. One of the characters, Ray, does has a less-than-ideal life that is alluded to in each book but only addressed in the third.
Something unique I love about these stories is that there is never a time where Penny needs to fight her classmates for survival, defeat an evil wizard, or beat the boss level. This really makes the books work as a story about a girl named Penny who happens to be a supervillian, and not mere adventure novels. I am also a fan of the very realistic world that Penny and her Inscrutable Machine (the name of her super villain group,) live in. This is wonderful, immersive world-building.
Currently there are three novels in the series, Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, Please Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon, and Please Don't Tell My Parents I've Got Henchmen. As an adult, I really love this series. I've reread the first and third books more than once.