PW #229: Middle Grade Contemporary with magical elements: THE SOUND INSIDE

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Jenny Lundquist

Mentee Name: Caroline Flory


Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Contemporary with magical elements

Word Count: 41,000 words


Firefly Mountain’s a special place—it strums, taps, and hums special songs only twelve-year-old Cassie Banner can hear. But the fireflies disappeared years ago, taking bits of magic with them. As development now threatens the town’s existence, Cassie must untangle secrets to set everything right again.


Everything hushes near dusk on these almost-summer nights in May. I used to think it was because the birds, horses, trees, and cicadas were getting ready for bed, a quieting before sleep, like Mom telling me I can stay up later if I quietly read.

But, the more I stand here in the whispering grass listening to the sounds emerging from everything, the more I think every part of this mountain waits for some other song to join in.

Like something’s missing.

Most everyone in town agrees the something missing is the fireflies, which, I’m told, used to sprinkle every step of ground. The whole mountain’s music lessens each summer, telling me everything on the mountain aches for them to return.

Rambler’s quickstepping music rushes through the hush, floating around the corner of the barn to me in the back yard as I start the evening’s chores. From the excitement woven within its notes, Dad’s given out the sweetfeed already.

A spunky, slightly petite Appaloosa pony mix, Rambler has a smaller mandolin sound with a lot of perk and pluck, a perfect match for him. An appropriate song drifting from inside to out.

I’m the only one around here who can hear these songs, and sometimes I wish others could hear how right their sounds inside are.

But in an instant his song flips to a double-stringed panic.

Not again.

I start running to the barn.

Then he squeals out a whinny, propelling Mom and Dad to race after me.



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