Middle Grade Novels

The Dinowranglers

Middle grade science fiction – 52,000 words

Most people believe dinosaurs are extinct. Most people are wrong.

Twelve-year-old Finch lives on a secret dinosaur preserve in Florida with the last surviving herd of Hadrosaurs. So what if keeping his family’s secret means no friends? Finch loves studying and caring for the dinosaurs. Especially Hettie, his favorite, who’s a better friend than any human. But when Finch, in a rush to help Hettie, breaks a family rule for the first time ever, the snarky new girl in town sniffs out his secret. And lands Finch in a heap of trouble even bigger than T. rex droppings.

Turns out his new friend’s mom is a well-known monster hunter, Dr. Leon. Drawn by the local legends of “Swampzilla,” Dr. Leon aims to catch a dinosaur and share her discovery with the world. Which puts Hettie right in her crosshairs. If Dr. Leon finds her, Finch will lose everything. His home, his herd, and his new best friend, who cares about the dinosaurs as much as he does. Worse, he’ll lose Hettie. To protect her, Finch must break every last one of his family’s rules. Even if it means putting all the dinosaurs at risk.

This novel was a finalist in the 2023 SCBWI Florida Rising Kite contest.


Rook and Orion

Middle grade contemporary – 36,000 words

Twelve-year-old Rook will fight tooth and talon to keep Orion, the hawk she rescued eight months ago. Her best friend. But after Orion nearly sets fire to the kitchen, Rook’s mechanic mom decides enough is enough. The bird has to go. So when Rook finds a young manatee stranded in a coastal pond, she hatches a plan. If she returns the manatee to the ocean, that has to convince Mom she’s responsible enough to keep Orion forever. Even if it won’t make up for all the ways she’s hurt Mom.

However, moving a 300-pound aquatic mammal isn’t easy. Neither is keeping it camouflaged. With help from her overeager cousin, Henry, Rook plows ahead despite a whole flock of problems, all while evading Mom’s eagle eye. But when the manatee’s injuries prevent it from going back to the ocean, Rook and Henry have to find it a new home, and fast. With a hurricane about to strike, Rook must decide if keeping her best friend is worth the risk to the manatee’s life.


Justice at the Zoo

Middle grade mystery – 49,000 words

Months ago, Ember, a young rainbow boa, was tricked by a fellow snake into breaking the One Law of the wild—never kill without need. As a result, she was banished from her rainforest, the home she craves, and forced to live in a human zoo. When a zookeeper is found dead, the accused lion, the King of the zoo, asks Ember to track down the real culprit before he’s executed. Ember agrees. Not because she’s looking to make friends—she isn’t—but because the King promises he’ll help her return home. If she succeeds.

Ember soon learns, however, not every animal wants the stern lion to live. The lioness has her motives, for instance. And Sabine the tiger is plotting to oust the King and put the zoo’s residents under her paw. When she blackmails Ember, Ember must choose between joining the tiger or joining her dinner menu. But even if Ember proves the King is innocent, she must still find a way to share her evidence with the zookeepers before they put the lion down. If she fails, she’ll lose her one chance to return home—and possibly her life.

This novel was selected for Pitch Wars 2018 and was paired with mentor G. Z. Schmidt – Read our Pitch Wars interview here

Rainbow boa

Gravity and Monsters

Middle grade science fiction – 52,000 words

Twelve-year-old Kate seeks refuge in the woods saving trapped animals. She’s been stuck in small-town Minnesota with her mad scientist uncle ever since her dad’s unexpected death. She can’t relate to the gun-toting locals or the pesky boy who follows her around—not that she needs friends—and she definitely can’t relate to Uncle. He’s too busy punching holes in the universe to notice when she’s around.

Then a gigantic, Hulk-like creature comes through one of those holes into her world. After the creature helps Kate tend to a wounded deer, she grows to love the emotion-sensing, color-changing alien. It cares for the woods—and Kate—almost as much as Dad did. But even the woods aren’t big enough to hide a giant. When a local farmer mistakes the creature for a dangerous bear, he aims to put it down. And if Uncle catches it, he’ll dissect it—all in the name of science. To protect the creature, Kate must send it back through Uncle’s rift. Except then she’ll lose her friend forever.

And Kate isn’t ready to let go.

This novel was a winner in the 2017 Revise & Resub contest (#RevPit) and was paired with editor Ellen Brock