11. THE ZOOKEEPER’S MACHINE – Middle Grade Adventure

Assorted_Uzi_Water_Guns_lgMentor Name: Michelle Hauck

Mentee Name: Jayme Allen


Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Adventure

Word Count: 47,000


After a bad prank, twelve-year-old Hannie Bunker’s best friend is kidnapped by talking gorillas. A hairy clue leads Hannie to the zoo, where she discovers a machine that sucks talents out of kids. To save her friend and destroy the machine, she joins forces with a scientist Komodo dragon and a juggling jaguar. If they fail, Hannie will become the next lab rat.


Principal Favela should’ve known better. Trying to outlaw pranks on the first of April was a pretty stupid move, especially for a middle school principal. On a drizzly day like this one, the place needed a little excitement. At least Hannie Bunker thought so.

“I can’t believe we don’t get recess today,” Hannie said as her friend, Mei Lei, took the seat next to her in homeroom. “It’s not even that bad out.”

Deep thunder rolled in the distance.

“We still get recess; it’s just indoors,” Mei Lei said. “It’ll be fun—we can play Crazy Eights. Besides, my dad says we’ll be getting up to four-point-five inches of rain.” Mei Lei always knew a lot about the weather, given her dad worked as the back-up weatherman for the local news station.

“Principal F. has us trapped in here like zoo animals,” Hannie muttered. “Luckily, I have a plan.”

Mei Lei frowned. “Don’t do anything stupid—you almost got suspended for the toilet thing last year!”

“Calm down, sheesh,” Hannie said. “I’m not going anywhere near the toilets, promise.” She stared out the window, watching as tiny raindrops rolled down the glass. Unlike Mei Lei, she found cloudy skies and card games extremely boring.

Good thing she’d soon pull off something no student had ever done before: She was going to prank the teachers.

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