Genre: MG Contemporary
Word Count: 41,000
Pitch: Thirteen-year-old overweight Phoebe and her dad plan to see the world—until he gets sick. Now her only chance to travel is the local beauty pageant, but fat girls can’t compete, much less win.
Everybody knows fat girls can’t be in beauty pageants. And I’m a big fan of Butterfinger candy bars. And of Oreos. Any junk food, really.
That’s why I walked right past the pageant sign on the outdoor bulletin board at Three Corners Middle School like it never existed. But my best friend Lacey grabbed my wrist and pulled me back up the stairs.
Behind us kids shouted and laughed, their flip-flops smacking against the pavement. Last day of school excitement. Wahoo.
Lacey shaded her eyes and read: “Enter the Three Corners Princess Pageant! Open to Girls Grades 6-8. $1,000 Grand Prize!” She turned to me, hands clasped like she was praying. “Phoebe, let’s sign up!”
“For what?” I asked.
She nudged me with her hip. “The pageant!”
“Have your brains melted, woman?” I looked at the bright pink poster, then at my friend. “But you should do it,” I said. “You’d be great.”
And she would. Lacey was skinnier than a needle, with legs from here to Canada—sort of like a Barbie, only without the chest, which was way better than too much chest, if you asked me. I straightened my bra.
“C’mon, Feebs.” She bounced on the balls of her feet, curly hair flying. “Please. It wouldn’t be any fun without you.” Lacey had a hard time with the word no.
“I’ll sit on that prickly pear cactus before I spend my summer vacation in a pageant.” I pointed to a spiny clump by the bulletin board.
MURDER MOST FOUL
Mr. Boddy is sprawled on his back at the entrance of the mansion. There’s a hole in his chest, and the blood soaked into his shirt is spotty and drenched, as if someone tried to wash it off. A feather is stuck in his hair, jostled by the wind.