Title: The Curious Curse of the Lonely Library
Word Count: 56k
Genre: Upper Middle Grade
The smell of a book bewitches Theodore Plumford. By day he soaks up adventures in ink, by night he dreams of bold deeds. A library is his sanctuary.
But Theodore can tell that the Pickettsville library is different.
Not just any library is over two hundred years old.
Not just any library was founded by a madman.
Not just any library is despised by its town.
When Theodore, Hugo, and Lucy Plumford are left with relatives one summer, Theodore soon drags his reluctant siblings to explore the unusually grand town library. Though the rest of Pickettsville refuses to darken its doors, the majestic building and its lively librarians soon enthrall the children. But when they discover that characters from the books are haunting the halls, an investigation into the library’s secrets leads them deep into one family’s peculiar history and its founder’s mysterious past. When the books begin to fight back, Theodore, the boy who has always lived through others’ stories, must learn how to be his own hero to vanquish the library’s enemies.
Theodore Plumford’s neck prickled when they drove past the building on their way into town. Its stony face blocked the drooping sun and drowned him in its shadow. Six white columns stood like sentinels before a wide double door. Cold, silent windows rose between the pillars, but they offered no glimpse of what lay inside. On top of the building was a glass dome, rosy light streaming through its panes. It looked like a ball of fire upon a mammoth block of ice.
Theodore wondered what the building might be. The rest of Main Street was a collection of shabby stores. This building stood apart like a wild beast among tabby cats.
“Mom, what’s that place?”
Mrs. Plumford twisted in her seat to follow Theodore’s pointing finger. She squinted into the sun. “I’m not sure. Mabel’s never taken us there. You’ll have to ask your aunt.”
Theodore’s younger sister Lucy squirmed around to look at the building before it disappeared from view. “It looks scary,” she whispered.
“It looks boring,” yawned Hugo Plumford, elbowing Lucy in the center seat to make more room for himself. “Are we there yet?”
“Almost,” said Mr. Plumford. He turned the car into a neighborhood of prim houses in tidy rows, each so alike they might have been pressed from the same mold.
Hugo squashed his nose against the glass and groaned. “Can’t I just go with you?”
“No,” said Mr. Plumford. “I’d prefer you weren’t eaten by a crocodile.”
“But I wouldn’t!”
“Hugo, you’d be trying to measure its teeth the minute I turned my back.”
Entry Nickname: A Spicy Caper
Title: A Less than Perfect Transformation
Word count: 63K
Genre: Upper Middle Grade Mystery
Having fought the stigma of The Girl with the Missing Father, thirteen-year-old Ginger Jones has finally earned a place at the top of the Bottlenose Beach High-erachy. But then a series of written clues arrive: all pointing to a father who’s not only alive, but one who is a covert government physicist, not a record producer as originally thought.
Ginger has her doubts. This wouldn’t be the first time someone’s used her sketchy past to make a fool of her. But the evidence continues to mount and the instructions from her father become clear: he wants Ginger to find and return the plans to his matter transformation machine.
Of course he does.
Ginger’s never been one for taking orders though, especially not from fathers who leave without explanation. Instead, she comes up with a better plan – one to lure her dad out of hiding, and extract some much-needed answers from him.
If only her success didn’t hang on sacrificing her newfound status for the fringe-dwellers she left behind: the local inventor’s daughter, and the odd-yet-sweet boy who once defended her. And if only she knew who to trust among the growing number of adults who seem a little too interested in her comings and goings.
The answers she seeks better be worth it. Building her father’s transformation machine and demonstrating it at the state science fair is going to take some serious smarts if Ginger wants to survive high school. Or survive at all.
It started in her feet. That tingle. That prickly, want-to-scratch-it sense that something wasn’t right. They were restless, wanting to run away. From what, Ginger Jones didn’t know yet, but she sensed it was something significant. Out of the ordinary. Not Bottlenose Beach extraordinary, like the time there was a great white shark off the coast and the beach closed for a week. This was personal.
Over the past year Ginger had perfected a trademark saunter, a practised air of grace. Today her joggers slapped the asphalt like a toddler’s flip-flops. The lack of control left her sweaty and irritable, itching for a way to let off steam.
“Ginger Jones!” the year-eight supervisor, Mrs Van Der Koot, called out. “If you must lead the class, please do it responsibly.”
Ah, right on cue. It wouldn’t be Friday Beach Sports without Mrs Van Der Koot's – aka Kooties – customary snark.
Hair clung to Ginger’s face as she wove between parked cars, and away from the high school. She shrugged away the tightness in her lungs. This apprehension of hers was ridiculous. Nothing more than the familiar stranglehold of tropical heat. Nothing fresh air couldn’t fix.
She licked the salt off her lips, finding momentary bliss in the ocean taste. Forget Kooties. Forget the stream of students trailing behind her. Forget those letters…
“Are you absolutely sure we can’t swim, Miss?” she shouted to Kooties, flashing an over-the-shoulder wink. “I won’t tell if you don’t.”