TITLE: The Real Hero
GENRE: MG Historical Mystery
In The Real Hero an 11-year-old boy eats worms, chases trains, cracks codes, and kisses the girl in his quest to unmask a spy posing as a patriot.
Steve Abernathy is on a mission to protect the home front while his brother fights Nazis in Europe. A loyal member of Captain Asgardia’s fan club, Steve has pledged to help his comic book hero Fight for Freedom, Defend Justice, and Destroy Evil. His patriotic zeal is put to the test in the summer of 1944 when German POWs are stationed in town. Morse code flashes from the prison camp at night. Dieter Zinzerdorf, a suspiciously charming prisoner, seems to be everywhere he shouldn’t be, like swapping gum with Steve’s older sister. When Steve discovers his own Sunday School teacher passing coded messages to Zinzerdorf, he vows to expose their spy ring and gain his rightful fame as town hero. But the villains on either side of the prison camp fence don’t wear easily identifiable masks like the bad guys in Steve’s comic books. If he can’t sort out friend from foe, Steve won’t just fail his mission, he’ll put his sister’s life at risk.
The Real Hero is a middle-grade historical mystery complete at 56,000 words. The tale is rooted in the true history of the German prisoner-of-war camp based in my hometown of Reedsburg, Wisconsin during World War II. The manuscript has 32 chapter illustrations gleaned from primary source graphics.
I have a MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Teenagers from Hamline University and was a history teacher for more than twenty years. I have had several nonfiction books published by ABDO and Nomad Press for the education and trade markets.
What follows are the first 250 words of my manuscript.
Thanks for considering my work.
Chapter 1: Metamorphosis
The coffin at the front of the church looked so sad and lonely that all of a sudden my heart twisted and I couldn't breathe. My brain knew who was being buried today, but my gut didn’t always trust my brain, and my gut had to be absolutely, positively certain my big brother wasn’t inside that brown box. If I didn’t find out soon, I was going to suffocate right here in the fourth pew of St. John’s Church!
Maybe if I dashed up the aisle and hid behind the altar, I could crack the coffin lid just enough to get a peek inside before anybody noticed. Opening my mouth so wide my jaw cracked, I gulped a mouthful of air. I was debating whether to sprint or belly crawl when suddenly a big hand clamped down on my thigh.
Dad leaned over the pew, his long arm pinning me in place. Mom stood in the aisle behind him, holding Junie on one hip and shooting me the evil eye. I hate it when parents know what you’re going to do before you even know it yourself.
I leaned back. Dad and Mom headed up the aisle with Eleanor trailing behind. When she passed me, Eleanor rolled her eyes. One of these days her pupils were going to get stuck behind her forehead. That would teach my stupid sister.
“Why you breathing like that?” Gordy said.
I stared at him. “Like what?” The words came out sounding like Donald Duck.
His eyes got real big and scared looking. If Gordy cried for Mom, I'd be the one in trouble.
I coughed and tried to clear my throat. “It’s nothing,” I said. “I’m just hyperluccinating a little bit.”
My brother had the vocabulary of a five-year-old. Probably because he was a five-year-old.