Entry Nickname: Trailer Trap
Title: Experiment in Progress
Word Count: 40,000
Genre: MG Contemporary
Alexis Reed is going to make her school sorry for sticking her in a trailer. Thanks to overcrowding, her fifth-grade class has been assigned to a portable classroom with defective air conditioning and a cockroach problem. She’s stranded across the soccer field from her quirky little brother, who tends to wander out of classrooms and hide in storage closets. When she can’t stay close to him, it’s a lot harder to keep Lucas from getting himself expelled.
Determined to get back in the main building, Alexis designs an experiment for her school science fair to prove that the trailer is dangerous. She and her partner Jaelynn demolish a model of the trailer with a leaf blower to show what would happen if a tornado hit Glenwood Elementary. The project wins the girls a third-place ribbon, an appearance on the local T.V. news, and an invitation to speak at the next school board meeting. Alexis thinks she’s won—until she learns that the school board plans to empty the trailer by transferring a busload of kids out of Glenwood. A busload made up of low-income students from the “wrong” side of town. A busload that includes Jaelynn.
Caught between her brother and her friend, Alexis must decide if she still wants out of the trailer at any cost.
If you ever run across one of the newspaper stories about my science project, don’t believe a word of it. Every single reporter got the story wrong.
Take The Canlaston Chronicle. The article said, “Jaelynn Moore asked her rebellious classmate Alexis Reed to help with a controversial experiment for the fifth grade science fair.” That’s completely backwards. I asked Jaelynn to be my partner, not the other way around. Besides, I wasn’t rebellious or controversial back then. That came later.
I told the reporter the real story, but he didn't listen. The truth is, I asked Jaelynn to be my partner because of a boy band. Normally, I would have teamed up with my best friend, Olivia. We’d been doing school projects together since kindergarten. But on September 15, the day the experiment was assigned, Olivia brought The Ultimate D.A.Z.E. Photo Journal for us to read at recess. She shoved it at me as we walked to the playground. I tried not to groan. “I think you showed me this already.”
“Nuh-uh. It’s new.”
“But we looked at it after swim practice, remember?”
Olivia sighed at my cluelessness. “That was The D.A.Z.E. Craze Behind-the-Scenes Fan Guide. Totally different.”
Olivia’s books all look the same to me. So do the posters on her bedroom wall, no matter whether they’re showing Damian, Alan, Zack, or Edward. Songs by D.A.Z.E. always sound alike, too. But I’d never dare say any of that to Olivia.
“Oh, right. Totally different.”