Entry Nickname: Jello Poems
Word Count: 37,500
Genre: MG Humor
Nobody would dare call Gordo Vanderhough a baboon-faced dorkisaur.
Towering over even the adults at Taft Elementary and the only 6th grader with a 5 o’clock shadow, Gordo is known for toppling kids in the lunch line like dominoes (Ga-pow!) and stealing entire trays of Jello (because he only loves two things in life: Jello and poetry). But nobody ever calls him a dorkisaur because nobody really talks to him at all.
One day a man not only talks to Gordo, but actually compliments him and invites him to join the Henchman Company. Gordo, though the youngest henchman, is a natural at all of it: giving evil glares, maniacal laughter, trash talking, throwing large kitchen appliances, and not thinking too much. He’s thrilled about his first job until he figures out that the evil mastermind behind it plans to hook the internet up to his brain in order to control an army of robots and a fully-armed flying spaceship the size of a city. He’s going to bully his way to world domination. Suddenly, Gordo questions his career path.
When the other henchmen get wind of his change of heart, Gordo finds out what it feels like to be the one being bullied. With the fate of mankind on the line, Gordo decides to use his size and skills for good. (Finally!) This villain is about to get Gordoed.
Gordo Vanderhough walked into the cafeteria, ready to cut to the very front of the line. As he lumbered past dozens of other hungry kids, no one called out, “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” No one chided, “You can’t do that.” And nobody even thought of saying, “Get to the back of line, you baboon-faced dorkisaur or I’ll kick you in the teeth.” They didn’t say the last line for several reasons. One reason was that no one at Taft Elementary could kick high enough to reach Gordo’s teeth. It would require an amazing jump, a ladder, or a trampoline. Maybe even all three. But the most important reason was that no one dared say anything remotely threatening to Gordo Vanderhough.
Gordo was officially the hugest kid at Taft Elementary. In fact, he was the largest person—period. Though he was a sixth grader, he towered over the teachers. He was also as wide as a buffalo—the big kind with burly shoulders and a mop of dirty fur on its head. Plus, if you looked really close, Gordo’s chin had the stubbly beginnings of a beard. His nanny told him to shave every other day, but she only spoke Polish so he couldn’t understand a word she said. To him, it sounded like she was telling him to sing songs about shampooing zebras. And that didn’t make any sense. Needless to say, Gordo didn’t shave, or sing songs, or shampoo zebras.
Title: Dear Mr. President
Entry Nickname: The President and me.
Word Count: 35,000
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
After his father dies in war, eleven-year-old Spencer Dunlap and his mother receive a letter from the president offering his condolences. Spencer responds with an angry letter blaming the president for his father’s death. The president responds, which sparks a chain of letters and emails between the two that ignites an unlikely friendship.
While Spencer and the president correspond, the Speaker of the House initiates impeachment proceedings against the president for a raid on an orphanage during the war, the same raid that Spencer’s father died. Spencer stumbles upon letters that his father wrote on the day he died that indicates Spencer’s father, not the president ordered the raid. Spencer must decide to share the letter and exonerate the president or keep it a secret to preserve his father’s reputation.
Dear Mrs. Laurie Dunlap and Spencer Dunlap
It is with a heavy heart I write to offer my condolences for the loss of your husband and father. As the Commander in Chief of the United States military, the hardest decisions I must make are the ones involving sending the brave men and women serving in our armed forces into harm’s way.
It is not a decision I take lightly and rest assured if any other solution other than armed conflict is possible, I surely choose the peaceful path.
With that said, we live in troubling times where our enemies wish to destroy our way of life and freedom for no other reason than our greatness threatens them. When our enemies threaten the well-being of American citizens or the allies of our great nation, we must act with strength, using the overwhelming might of the United States Armed Forces. It is the brave men and women such as your husband and father whose sacrifices allow Americans to rest peacefully knowing the brave soldiers protect us all. Lieutenant Timothy Dunlap gave the ultimate sacrifice and a grateful nation and that nation’s President will not forget his sacrifice.
President of the United States of America
Dear President Shepherd:
I hate you. You are a terrible president. If it weren’t for you, my dad would be at home and alive. Why did you have to start the stupid war in the first place?