Middle Grade Novels
Excerpt from Lighthouse,
“I hate her!" Hannah slammed into the kitchen. She pounded down the hallway to Gran’s room.
Gran looked up from her typewriter. “Kate Huff?” she said.
Hannah nodded. She slumped against the wall clutching a faded black beanie to her head. She flicked
a tear from her cheek.
“Come here, Bean.” Gran pushed herself away from her writing. The tiny wheels on her chair added
another line to the scribble of scratches on the floor. “What’s The Huffalo Fiend done this time?”
Still gripping her hat, Hannah sagged onto Gran’s bed. The knobbly bits on the bedspread dented the
backs of her legs. “I hate her!” Hannah whimpered. She lowered her hat and touched one finger to
the smooth, warm glob stuck to the top of her head.
“Hmm. The attack of the Bubble Gum Beast,” Gran said. She pushed up her glasses and went to work
with a comb.
Hannah twisted the hem of her skirt.
“I think we’ll have to cut it, honey.” Gran flicked some of her own gray strands from her eyes.
“I don’t care,” Hannah said. “Just get it out!” She stared at her hands and straightened her fingers.
The hated dimples appeared. Baby fat. Hannah made a fist. She heard a snip. The wad plunked into
her lap, trailing a clump of long brown hair. Hannah wrinkled her nose. “Peppermint.” She picked up
her hair between two fingers and dangled the gum in front of her face. “I hate peppermint.”
“Have a look,” Gran pointed to the full-length mirror across the room.
Hannah examined the tiny spikes shooting up from the crown of her head. Her gaze traveled down
her body. She tugged at the waist of her skirt and sucked in her stomach. “Now I look like a fat
alien!” she said.
Gran patted the bed. “Come on, I’ll try again.”
Hannah felt small tugs and gentle scrapes as her grandmother smoothed and fussed. She let her
shoulders drop and closed her eyes.
“OK. Now look!” Gran said. She held out a hand mirror. Hannah inspected herself again. She bobbed
her head up and down, back and forth. Better.
“Want some tea?” Gran smiled.
“Yes, please,” Hannah sniffed.
“How about peppermint?” Gran opened her eyes wide and covered her open mouth with one hand.
“Ha ha, very funny,” Hannah said. She almost smiled.
Excerpt from Bernice Takes a Plunge,
Maggie scratched her chin.
“Don’t scratch!” Bernice slapped her hand. “Come on, I’ll make you my Secret-Magic-Chicken-Pox-
Bernice emptied her backpack onto the kitchen counter. She handed Maggie the pointy ends of the
aloe vera leaves. “Hold these over the sink,” she said. “All the goo has to drain out.”
Maggie rested her elbows on the sink with her pinkies pointed toward the ceiling. “What have you
been doing without me?”
“I’ve been studying The Thumbtip.” Bernice pulled a food processor from its cubby on the counter.
“Is that the setting for your next story?” Maggie asked. She often helped Bernice with her
“It is,” Bernice said. “Where are your measuring cups?” She shook the calamine lotion violently.
“Second drawer,” Maggie mumbled. She was staring at the brownish-yellow goo oozing from her
Bernice unscrewed the pink bottle. “Now, the most important part of making this potion is the
measuring. The whole chemical structure will be thrown off if you’re not exact.
Half cup olive oil, quarter cup calamine lotion, a level tablespoon of baking powder.” Bernice
plopped the ingredients into the bowl and took the aloe vera from Maggie. She slit the leaves down
the middle and scraped the clear raspy flesh into the concoction in the food processor. Bernice
moved a chair over to the sink and stepped up.
“Now!” She held the plump, red tomato over her head, lined it up with the bowl and splash!
Droplets of oily liquid sprayed the walls, the floor, and Maggie’s face.
“Are you supposed to do that?” Maggie wiped her cheek.
Bernice was unperturbed. “That,” she said, “is the secret part. It’s the only way to get the
measurements exactly right. Whatever splashes out wasn't meant to be in there in the first place.”
Maggie nodded. She wiped her other cheek.
Bernice secured the top of the machine and stepped back. “You have to push the button or it won’t
work," she said. "This is an individualised potion. It’s much stronger than a general recipe.”
Maggie reached a tentative finger toward the puree button. She closed her eyes and pushed. The
motor sounded a little rough until the tomato was in manageable chunks. The goop turned pale
pink. An occasional chunk of aloe vera could be seen whirling past.
“Enough!” Bernice took the lid off and inspected the frothy mixture. “Looks good to me. Do you
want to drink it straight or mix it with something?”
“Drink it?” A pale green shadow crept over Maggie’s face.
“Kidding, Maggie.” Bernice slopped the potion into the peanut butter jar and held up a cotton ball.
“Shall I do the honours, or do you want to?”
“You. I don’t feel so good.” Maggie sat down and lifted her face to be painted.
Bernice dabbed spot after spot and it wasn't long before Maggie’s face and arms were covered with
pale pink slime.