Genre: MG Literary Fiction
Word Count: 54,000 words
Twelve-year-old Lydia would rather spend the afternoon reading in the bathroom than play field games, and that’s usually what starts her trouble with bullies. Camp is different though. For the first time in her life, she’s part of a close-knit group of friends who don’t like sports much either. Even better, the counselors don’t really seem to care if the campers slip away from the group to do their own thing, such as exploring the abandoned summer camp on the other side of the woods.
Lydia just can’t wait for her friend Jackie to come home from vacation and join her group of friends at Camp Minnewaska. The rest of the group is leaving soon, and without Jackie’s company, she’d have to deal with Melissa, an overly competitive bully, by herself. Plus Jackie’s famous pranks are just what Lydia needs to liven up the summer.
When Jackie asks Lydia to keep a secret, Lydia is thrilled—until she hears it. Jackie wrote a threatening, anonymous letter to a mutual friend. Lydia agonizes over the choice between breaking her promise to keep a secret she knows is wrong; losing Jackie’s friendship; or keeping the promise and losing the rest of her friends.
Completed at 54,000 words, POISON PEN is a middle grade literary novel with series potential. It’s set in Northern New Jersey in the early 1980’s, and is peppered with pranks, ghost stories, scavenger hunts, day trips, and a first kiss.
“There’s a hole in the fence around here somewhere,” commented Mindy.
We walked in silence along the length of the fence until she discovered the hole. Mindy squeezed through the fence first, followed by Cecilia.
I climbed through the hole in the fence carefully, and looked around. The asphalt paths of the abandoned camp were pitted with potholes, and littered with crushed beer cans, broken glass, and the occasional discarded mattress.
“He said he’d meet us at the pavilion,” said Mindy, bending over and whipping her head back to fluff up her feathered hair.
“Who?” I asked.
“Eddie from Boys 7.”
“Why Eddie?” I asked.
I’d known Eddie, as well as Mindy and Cecilia for the past two summers since I started at Camp Minnewaska, but he and I had never really talked.
“He’s cute,” answered Cecilia. She was picking some leaves off of her shirt, and tucking it into her shorts in a way that emphasized her chest. “He’s over there, in the pavilion, alright.”
We went over to the center of the camp where Eddie sat on a low brick wall, idly tossing a tiny red ball into the air and catching it in his baseball hat.
“Hi Eddie,” said Mindy and Cecilia together.
All I could manage was a simple, “Hey.”
“Is this your first time coming here?” he asked.
“This is the best part of camp, escaping and coming here,” said Mindy.
“Mindy was only here once last summer. Lydia and I have never been here but my brother has been here lots of times and told me all about it,” answered Cecilia, trying not to be outdone.