Title: Taco Girl
Age Category: Middle Grade
Word Count: 36,000
Pitch: Eleven year-old Ariela Vega is used to graffiti and concrete, not the pine trees, rock walls, and zip lines at camp. Brandishing newfound gutsiness and poetic musical skills, she overcomes being outcast as “Taco Girl.”
First 250 Words of Manuscript:
Nicole Lewis has legs as long as a giraffe, I swear to Santa Maria.
Would it kill her to lose just one time at the long jump? Instead we watch her fly over a stretch of water and across the sand patch, grunting through the air. There’s a little stream in middle of the track for us to jump over, just to make things exciting. This is Action Camp, after all. They hang you from the treetops on a zip line here, like somebody’s laundry. So why not make us jump a moat?
Nicole clears the stream and plants her heels in the sand like a rock star. She does good work in the sand, whether that’s on the volleyball court, the baseball field, or during track. Good thing. At camp, sand is everywhere. It’s worse than the back seat of Papi’s Buick after a day at Jones Beach.
All fifteen of us G-5 girls lean against a split rail fence, waiting our turn. The fence has been painted so many times the wood is smooth and fat with layers. Pine trees behind us rise so high you have to lean your head straight back to see the tops. The air smells like stomped grass and sap and dirty fingernails. All that nature pinches the inside of my nose. *Allergies.* I sneeze.
Our counselor Deborah calls: “Ariela, you’re up.”
I rub my tingly face with my arm and shuffle to the starting line.
*Deep breath, Ariela.*
I am not a jock.