2. A JAR FULL OF BUTTERFLIES – Middle Grade Literary Fiction

Assorted_Uzi_Water_Guns_lgMentor Name: Brenda Drake and Brooks Benjamin

Mentee Name: Donna Munoz


Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Literary Fiction

Word Count: 50,000


After leaving Mexico to live in Texas, Graciela’s beloved traditions are slipping away. But when her plan to get her family back home goes horribly wrong and her sister is diagnosed with cancer, she must let go of the past and embrace her new life or risk being left behind.


Outside my window, the motor of my papí’s truck screeches, and then click, click, clicks. He’s trying to get it started, so he can leave to work, but it won’t budge. This happens almost every morning. Maybe it doesn’t like to wake up. Same as me.

It never did this back in Mexico. Even the truck knows better. Texas isn’t home. I climb down from the top bunk and press my forehead against the cool window. My tired eyes blink at the new sun.

Papí rests his head on the steering wheel. The truck looks glum under the shade of the driveway’s canopy. He tries to revive it again. Its rusty body shudders and stops.

I know exactly what he’s doing in that truck. He’s gently pumping the gas a few times, begging it to start. “Ándale, mi niña.” He’ll say in Spanish. This means, “Come on, my little girl.” He straightens and does the sign of the cross and lowers his head to pray. Papí’s old truck needs a lot of coaxing and a lot of prayer. If that truck doesn’t start, he won’t get to work.

Sometimes I wish it wouldn’t start. Then he’d come back in and maybe sit at the breakfast table with me, and we could eat and talk and laugh, just like we used to, Graciela and Papí. Now, that only happens on Sundays.

I consider praying for the truck not to start. But instead, I do my own sign of the cross, hoping for a miracle.

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