Title: The Wildlife Preserve for Mostly Human Kids
Entry Nickname: Humanimals
Word Count: 79,000
Genre: MG Fantasy
When Ricky Chase turns twelve, he learns about the world of Legionnaires, boys and girls who change into animals to battle evil, and he is whisked from his home to train at the American Preserve in NYC. Expecting a gothic fantasy castle, Ricky’s is surprised to find that the Preserve is a Daft-Punk-style New York Times skyscraper in midtown Manhattan, with techno music, auto clothing, airvators (elevators of air), and water slides that go from floor to floor on demand, all for the purpose of training the world’s most elite children in the unique craft of channeling their inner animal. Not only do Legionnaires develop their animal’s coolest abilities, but their dietary preferences as well—hopefully Ricky becomes something other than a beaver.
While Legionnaires can only channel one animal each, their enemies change into grotesque combinations, becoming fierce chimera-like warriors. Ricky struggles during his first year and ends up changing into more than one animal, casting suspicion that he is an enemy spy. When his new best friend, a Korean girl who transferred from the Asian Preserve, goes missing, he not only has to prove his innocence, but master his abilities, and channel his true animal or he’ll never defeat the real spy and save her in time.
Ricky gazed down through his second floor window at the bustling Manhattan streets and wondered what life was like for the fourteen-thousand other foster kids in the city. The morning sun cast long shadows as people pinballed down the sidewalks, scurrying off to wherever it was they went on Sunday mornings.
The alley across the street loomed dark and quiet as usual, until a teenage boy emerged into the light and locked eyes with Ricky. He wore blue jeans and a gray hoodie, but instead of shoes, he had huge webbed feet, like an enormous bullfrog, and his hands were massive, red lobster claws.
Ricky chuckled and gave him two thumbs up for the costume. Maybe he was a foster kid too, and made extra cash dressing up for tourists in Times Square. The boy's lips curled back like a wolf protecting a kill, his eyes still locked on Ricky.
Ricky glanced over at Carlos who sat on his bed sketching a giraffe in a tuxedo. “Hey, come check out this guy’s costume.”
Carlos nestled his pencil behind his ear, its yellow shaft contrasting with his black hair. He bounced over and gazed out the window with Ricky. The boy was still there, but his lobster claws and webbed feet were gone, replaced by regular hands and shoes. Ricky shook his head. Impossible. He'd only glanced away for a second. He pulled off his glasses, cleaned the lenses with his t-shirt, and slid them back on. Same. How had he changed so quickly?
Title: THE LAST PRINCESS
Entry Nickname: BATTLE ROYALE
Word Count: 67,000
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Fantasy
Twelve-year-old Cat Brökkenwier wishes her life was a fairy tale because she believes she sees magical creatures everywhere. But home school in the suburbs falls way short of satisfying her over-active imagination, and her obsession begins to influence her schoolwork and the family business. Her mother, fed up with Cat’s head-in-the-clouds attitude, takes away her treasured books and tells her it’s time she grew up.
After weeks of living up to Mom’s fun-sucking expectations, Cat snaps. She sneaks into the garage to rescue her beloved books while the family sleeps and stumbles upon an ancient diary all about the fae. Cat embarks on a quest to learn more and meets a centuries-old dryad who tells her the faerie-folk were real but they’ve blended in over the years until they look almost human, and Cat can spot them because she’s one of them. Oh, and since she has royal blood and this “fae-dar,” she’s a candidate to become the last Princess of the Fae.
Now, Cat must earn the favor of the cliquish fae-born and united them before her rival, a goblin prince, uses his sinister magic to turn them into an army ... to destroy the humans.
An ogre. Definitely.
I could just see him through a gap in the plywood. He was standing at the end of the alley behind our booth, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and khaki shorts and gnawing on a big, greasy turkey leg. He had a hook nose and black hair, and one bushy eyebrow all the way across his forehead. Black hair curled on his long arms and legs, too. Classic ogre.
Of course, to everyone else he just looked like a regular guy. You know how some people can look up at the clouds and find elephants and pirate ships and bunny rabbits? Me, I look at people and see fairies and dwarves and trolls. And they’re everywhere.
I made another mark on my tally sheet and hid it under my homework. Besides the ogre, that made three pixies, one sprite, two elves, and that lady who might have been a gnome. All before lunch. Weekends at the fair always brought them out.
Feeling a twinge of guilt, I looked down at my homework. I was homeschooled, so Mom would be the one reading my paper – and the only thing I’d written so far was, “Catherine Brökkenwier, age 12.” I was supposed to be writing a report on Windsor Castle in England. But instead, all of these fairy-tale people just reminded me how I wasn’t a princess in my own fairy-tale castle.
They say, “Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it.” Yeah, I’m not seeing the downside there.