Entry Nickname: Be Grateful For Cookies
Word Count: 40,000
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Thirteen-year-old Lizzie will do almost anything for a cookie. Sadly, her mother banned them from her life months ago, replacing sweets with tasteless foods and a gym membership. Her mom claims it’s for her own good, even though her skinny sister can still eat whatever she wants.
Doomed to a life of flaxseed and broccoli, Lizzie joins what she believes is an after school cooking club, hoping to make chocolate-anything on the sly. When the teacher announces they’ll also be sewing, Lizzie discovers a knack for designing stylish plus-size clothes, something she desperately needs. After the owner of a local boutique sees one of Lizzie’s shirts with the message BE STRONG sewn across the back, she convinces Lizzie to reveal her inspirational clothing to the public with a fashion show. Lizzie hesitantly agrees—it’s a lot of work, and she’s never been comfortable being the center of attention.
Faced with an overpowering mom, a group of relentless school bullies, and some embarrassing mishaps at the gym, Lizzie realizes how important it is to BE YOU — a phrase on one of her shirts. Armed with her collection and a chance to show her mother that success comes in all sizes, Lizzie sets out to prove there’s more to a person than the size of their waist.
From the moment I stepped out onto Aunt Teri and Uncle Joe’s patio, they taunted me. My eyes darted away, trying my best to ignore them, but I knew they were there. Every summer my aunt and uncle hosted a huge neighborhood cookout. Mom had warned me on the car ride over to be good. “A little self-control goes a long way.” The words still echoed in my head.
Hearing Aunt Teri behind me, my heart began to race. No doubt she had them with her.
You can do this, I reminded myself. You’re better than they are.
“Lizzie,” Aunt Teri called.
I felt her hand on my shoulder. She twirled me around.
“It’s so lovely to see you. And my, look how big you’ve gotten. Chip?”
She thrust the dreaded bowl in my face. They were the kind with ridges. The kind covered with that powdered sour cream and onion stuff I loved. I forced a smile.
“No thanks. I’m good.”
She shrugged and began to walk away.
“Wait!” I yelled. “I mean …” Rushing over to her, I dug my chubby fingers into the bowl, emerging with a fistful of my forbidden fare. “Maybe just a couple. Thanks.”
Looking up, I saw my mother glaring down at me through Aunt Teri’s kitchen window. I threw the chips in the trash and grabbed a piece of celery off of the veggie tray instead. I was in for a long afternoon.