Wednesday, August 10, 2011


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First Name: Janet
Genre: MG Contemporary

When Annie and Jason first started the cemetery, Annie always hoped for rain. She thought it was more dramatic. But common sense won out. Rain turned the holes into mud baths.

Fortunately, today was perfect, clear-sky burial weather. If she had to wait any longer, it would be too late.

Annie eavesdropped from the top of the stairs. Her brother Matt and a friend droned on about healing plants for Boy Scouts. That'd keep him out of her hair.

She tip-toed down the hall and peeked in her mom's room. Busy with bills. And Kate was out of the house. Perfect.

Still, to be safe, she sneaked the phone into the hall closet where her sister's faux fur parka would muffle the sound. She speed-dialed 7 and let it ring once, then hung up and called again. Their secret code. It rang twice before Jason answered.

"It's me." Annie was all business. "I've got a body count."

Jason hedged. "I don't know. My parents are talking to this lady, and . . ."

"Jason, you're ten. Find a way. This is important." Without waiting for a response, she hung up.

Jason wouldn't find a way. Annie knew. She'd just have to go to his house and get him, like usual.

After listening at the door for several seconds, she slipped out of the closet and replaced the phone. Silently, she extracted the pre-packed bag from under her bed then ran down the stairs.

"I'm going outside, Mom!" She bounded out of the house before her mom could protest and ran smack into Kate.

"Watch it, squirt!"

For a split second, Annie thought she might escape her sister's usual torment, until Kate's mouth twisted into a grin. "Where are you going, anyway? To your boyfriend's?"

Annie puffed out her chest, clutching her bag tight. "He's not my boyfriend!"

Kate laughed as she pushed past. "Right."

The door banged shut, and Annie forced herself to unclench her fists. She wasn't in the clear yet and needed to be alert. Spies could be anywhere.

Bag over her shoulder, Annie slowed to a casual stroll and whistled as she scanned the area. Across the cul-de-sac, Mrs. Schuster---aka Mrs. Meany---pulled weeds from her perfect flower garden. The old woman paused to eye Annie.

Next door, Billy pedaled on his trike while his mom watched from the garage. A picture of innocence. But was it? Annie kept up her guard.

Still, as a seasoned pro, Annie knew how to handle it. She breathed in the warm September air, hitched up her pack, and sprinted around the corner house to Jason's.

As always, Mr. Parker's beat-up truck sat in the driveway. Lumber jutted from the back as though Jason's dad was headed to his next framing job. It had looked that way for a while now. In addition to the truck, a shiny off-white Lexus was parked at the curb.

That must belong to the lady, Annie thought.


Tome said...

Hi! This is a really interesting concept, one that I haven't seen in MG novels before. However, I'd be careful about confusion at the beginning. Ten-year-olds started a cemetery? Although I think keeping some of this a mystery is what will turn pages, I did wonder about the "how" and "why" behind it, yet the story took off at full force, almost as though we were supposed to already understand the concept of what your characters are doing, and why being secretive is crucial. That might just be my opinion, but still something to consider. Overall, fascinating idea, though. Even though it's listed as MG, I can tell there are many sophisticated levels at work here. Good luck!


Leah Miller said...

This really interested me! Right off the bat I went "Huh? Cemetery? Must keep reading..." Which is exactly what the first 500 should do, I think. I liked the characters, I could see them in my head pretty well. So, yeah, there's not really anything else I can say but good job and good luck!

Kate Larkindale said...

The first line about the cemetery made me go 'huh?'. I had to go back and re read to make sure my mind wasn't playing tricks. Once I was sure it wasn't, I was hooked. I wanted to read on and find out more.

I also like that Annie is the strong one, the brave one where Jason needs to be gone and gotten to go out.