Entry Nickname: Guerrilla Geek
Title: Ellie and
Word count: 40K
Genre: MG Fantasy
No matter how many times twelve-year-old Ellie Emerson tells herself that
trees and genetics are not cool topics of conversation, that’s kinda all she’s
got. She’s seen so many eye-rolls that
she can’t even force herself to look anybody in the eyes anymore. And the best defense against bullying she’s
come up with is to pretty much stop talking altogether. It’s gotten so bad that the “friend” she
hangs out with after school is an old chestnut tree she’s named Cassie (short for
its Latin name, Castanea dentata). Sure, trees are great, but a few real friends
would be nice. Ellie just has no clue
how to even start.
But when Ellie’s out hiking in the woods behind her house and discovers
Arborites, little green-haired, bark-skinned elves born from the seed of a
tree, she gets her chance. A tree-loving
science-geek is exactly what they need.
Trees and Arborites all over the forest are mysteriously becoming sick,
and they think Quercus Supreme, leader of the Oak Arborites, is to blame. Rumor has it he’s genetically engineering insects
and diseases in a secret laboratory to get rid of anyone who’s different.
The Arborites must find out what’s going on and come up with a way to stop it,
but they can’t do it on their own. If
Ellie can learn how to look the Arborites straight in the eyes, find her voice,
and let her geek-flag proudly fly, she might not only save lives, but also
learn how to make friends.
First 250 words:
Ellie’s favorite tree was lying on the forest floor in a tangled heap. The only branch still covered with the yellow
leaves of autumn waved in the breeze like it was signaling for help.
I should’ve stayed with her during the
storm. There had to be something I
“I’m so sorry, Cassie. But hey,
everything’s gonna be fine. I
promise. Just like always,” she
reassured the majestic century-old chestnut tree. “Wanna read some more Gulliver’s Travels? Or I’ve
got a new book, Remarkable Trees of the
World. There’s like a whole section
on ‘Trees in Peril.’ Maybe some
interesting treatments for forest diseases and insect infestations can cheer us
Ellie grabbed her backpack and unzipped the main compartment. As she reached inside for the book, she
noticed dozens of ants crawling up her sleeve.
“Eww,” she yelled, her eyes popping
wide. She flicked the ants off and ran her
hands up and down her body, straining to look at her backside, just to make
sure there weren’t any more. And that’s
when she saw the massive army of black ants marching along the fallen trunk. No, no,
no, no, no.
“Shoo, get off,” she shouted. “She’s not
some rotten log for you to nest in. Show
some respect. Leave her alone!”
She pulled off her sneaker and beat them like she was trying to put out a
brush-fire. Squished segmented bodies
with wiry legs were scattered everywhere, but it did nothing to scare off the