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Tuesday, 8 March 2016  |  Posted by Heather Cashman

mario and bowser

Title: Big Fat Pond Fish

Age Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Contemporary

Word Count: 40,000

Pitch: When Jordan’s opera masterclass money goes missing, the overweight eighth-grader accepts a dangerous swimming dare to win the cash prize. But winning means losing more than lard. It may mean losing his life.

First 250 Word of Manuscript:
I eyeballed the dangling uvulas and pretended I wasn’t pee-myself nervous. Spinlow would know I hadn’t practiced, and she’d decapitate me before I got through the first verse.

She glanced over her half glasses. “Be right with you, Mr. Murphy.” Her swirly bun reminded me of a giant frosted cinnamon roll. There was a Twinkie waiting in my locker; the thought of its golden goodness made my gut rumble.

I went back to studying the cross-sectioned diagrams of mouths and throats that hung over her desk, but all those accusing uvulas made me even more twitchy.

She finally looked up, and her gaze froze on my Future Farmer’s of America shirt. “Still hasn’t told them at home yet. Hmm.” Tapping her desk calendar with a pencil, she muttered, “March twenty-sixth. Not much time. Well, we will see what he can do.”

Did she mean me? And who the heck was the other half of “we,” since there was no one else in the room? I still couldn’t decode Spinlow’s bizarre self-talk after two years of choir class and months of lessons. Before I could shoot her an excuse for not having rehearsed, she trotted to the piano and said, “Let’s hear it, Mr. Murphy.”

I “me-may-ma-mo-mooed” up and down the scales. She yanked my jaw open a couple of times and peered into my mouth. Her touchiness used to freak me out worse than getting a gym physical from Dr. “Ice Hands” Anderson. But I’d heard the difference her tweaking had made in my voice.

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