Title: Penelope Charming and the Poisoned Glass Slippers
Entry Nickname: Perfectly Imperfect Princess
Word Count: 53K
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Twelve-year-old Princess Penelope, daughter of Cinderella, has a “charmed life.” Closets full of ruffly dresses (itchy), classes at the prestigious Charming Academy (boring), and her very own fairy godmother (annoying). Penelope would trade them all for her mother’s signature on an adventure slip to travel outside the castle walls. Too bad Cinderella refuses to sign.
Exploring secret passages and games of capture-the-frog are fun, but when a rival princess dares Penelope to steal her mother’s glass slippers, her craving for adventure results in shattered shoes days before the annual ball. Smashed slippers are small peas to Penelope, but to a villain plotting the end to her mother’s Happily Ever After, it’s a perfectly twisted opportunity. The replacement glass slippers are poisoned, casting Cinderella into a deathly slumber.
Determined to save her mother’s life, Penelope searches for the origin of the mysterious poison. Once upon a time, an antidote existed. Lucky for Penelope, her new friend Jack may know where to find it. With Jack’s promise to guide them, Penelope and her best friend, Red, sneak out of the castle walls to travel into the forbidden Beanstalk Forest. Penelope’s wish to explore Fablewood becomes a race to find the antidote ingredients to wake her mother before she sleeps forever after.
Glass slippers made terrible frog-capturing shoes. I kicked them off my feet, shoved my slingshot through my sash, and dropped to the mud to peer through the rose bush. A small frog lay stretched out on the edge of the wishing well, belly up to the sun.
Once upon a time, a princess ventured through the wilds of Fablewood…
I squeezed under the bush, but a thorn snagged the frilly hem of my dress, tearing the fabric with a loud rip. I froze.
The frog stretched his scrawny arms, wiggled a teeny bit, and flopped his arms back onto the stones. He hadn't heard me. The frog was mine.
The brave princess had climbed tall towers, outrun villains, trudged through swamps…
Squelching stealthily through the mud, I crawled to the well and paused.
One happily ever after...two happily ever after...three happily ever after.
She was Princess Penelope, daughter of Cinderella. One slimy beastie was no match for her.
“Surrender!” I sprang to my feet. A frog-shaped blotch glistened on the stones. “Rotten peas!”
As I leaned over the well, the frog leaped from his hiding spot beside a broken stone and onto my shoulder. He poked my cheek with a twig.
“Gotcha, Princess Penelope!”
I glared into his scum-colored googley eyes. “Phib! When did you know I was coming?”
“I saw you leave the castle doors.” Phib flourished the twig like a fencing sword, bowed, and strolled down my arm to the well. The dank smell of algae mixed with jasmine tickled my nose: eau de Phib.
Title: Super Weenie
Entry Name: Bust the Bubble Wrap
Word Count: 48,000
Genre: MG Contemporary; OwnVoices (Allergy/
Eleven-year-old SAFFRON LEWIS wants to be a regular kid, but her life-threatening food allergies, medical alert bracelet and ever-present EpiPen make her feel like a weirdo. The nickname assigned by her older brother when she was two years old isn't helping matters. She swallowed one bite of nutty Halloween candy, turned the same shade of blue as her tiny-kid superhero costume, and he's called her Super Weenie ever since.
Saffy's hyper-protective mother has managed to keep her safe since then. But to Saffy, the rules, regulations and restrictions feel like bubble wrap. And she’s ready to burst free from her restraints and that dorktastic alter ego. Saffy's starting middle school, and she's got a plan: Pretend to be Perfectly Normal.
Everything goes fine… until she eats one bite of a supposedly safe cookie during a class party and goes into anaphylactic shock. She jolts awake in an ambulance. Time for a new plan: Survive Sixth Grade.
After the latest medical scare, her mother isn't convinced Saffy can protect herself, so she demands the school enact a restrictive food policy to keep Saffy safe. Before long angry protestors are waving picket signs in front of her school in opposition to the food ban. Saffy's classmates choose sides. Her locker mate Madison is firmly against the ban, and devotes herself to making Saffy’s life totally un-fun. She calls Saffy Nut Girl, labels her defective, and tricks everyone into thinking Saffy's having another allergic reaction just to freak out Saffy's friends.
Saffy discovers the key to surviving middle school -- to surviving life as a kid with allergies -- isn't escaping her Super Weenie persona, but embracing it. She just has to figure out how to stand up to Madison, ensure the school nurse never has to unholster another one of her EpiPens, and convince her mom to pack away the bubble wrap for good. This calls for Saffy's boldest plan yet: Super Weenie Rescues Herself.
The click-clack of Mom's high-heeled shoes stops outside my bedroom door. She holds her arms wide for a hug. I squeeze her harder than normal, trying to de-activate the army of tiny robots stampeding in my belly. It doesn't work. Still nervous.
"Have a great first day." She tugs the tip of my braid out of my mouth.
"You've got your inhaler?"
"Yes, Mom. I showed you last night."
"Okay. Dad will deliver your EpiPen to the nurse this morning." She straightens my collar.
"Yep. I know. Since you're convinced I can't take care of myself." Now the robots are testing their rocket boosters.
"Please don't start, Saffron." Her hands flutter down to my wrists. "Where's your medical alert bracelet?"
"Just putting it on." I slide it on and tuck it under my sleeve.
"You have to wear it every day."
"Mom! Stop worrying." I bet she's wishing she could bust out a jumbo-sized roll of bubble wrap to keep me safe.
"Fine. Have fun with Britt and Jessica. I told them to watch out for you."
"You've convinced my friends to spy on me?" I administer a megawatt glare and yank on my braid. Its tip is spit-soaked.
Dad sidles up. Today's fashion disaster is a bright pink shirt, covered with flamingos wearing hats. Between regular first-day-of-school worries and my mother's nervous breakdown over my allergies, I don't have time to help Dad with his latest clothing misfire. I can't even joke with Mom over the whole thing because I'm currently busy being irritated at her.