Ellie and the Arborites #QueryKombat


Name: Kim
Word count: 40K
Genre: MG Fantasy

All twelve-year-old Ellie Emerson wants to do is make some friends. Problem is, that’s kinda hard when the kids at school don’t seem to want a science-geek around, and she’s too shy to come up with a way to change that.

But when Ellie discovers Arborites, elf-like beings born from the seed of a tree, living in the woods behind her house, they actually want her geek-flag to fly. Trees and Arborites all over the forest are mysteriously becoming sick, and they think Quercus Supreme, leader of the Oak Arborites, is to blame. Rumor has it that he’s conducting evil experiments in a secret laboratory to get rid of anyone who’s different. The Arborites need to find out what’s going on and come up with a way to stop it, but they can’t do it on their own. If Ellie can find the guts to help them, she might not only save lives, but also learn how to make friends.

First 250 words:
Ellie’s favorite tree was lying on the forest floor in a tangled heap. The only branch still covered with the yellow leaves of autumn waved in the breeze like it was signaling for help.

Everything’s fine, Ellie thought. Just don’t look.

“Hey Cassie, wanna read some more Gulliver’s Travels?” she asked, patting the old chestnut.

“Or I’ve got a new book, Remarkable Trees of the World. There’s like a whole section on ‘Trees in Peril.’ Now they’ve got some major problems.”

Ellie pulled away from the tree and felt around for her backpack, opening one eye just enough to find the zipper. As she reached inside for the books, she noticed dozens of ants crawling up her sleeve.

“Eww,” she yelled, her eyes popping wide. She flicked the ants off and ran her hands up and down her body, straining to look at her backside, just to make sure there weren’t any more. And that’s when she saw the massive army of black ants marching along the fallen trunk. Ellie looked like she had inhaled a wasp. No, no, no, no, no.

“Shoo, get off,” she shouted. “Leave her alone!”

Ellie pulled off her sneaker and beat them like she was trying to put out a brush-fire. Squished segmented bodies with wiry legs were scattered everywhere, but it did nothing to scare off the new arrivals. Ellie could almost hear them laughing. I can’t let them do this. They’ll destroy her. Ellie hurled the shoe and snapped a branch off a straggly pine.


11 thoughts on “Ellie and the Arborites #QueryKombat

  1. You’ve done a great job with the voice in this query, and I think the story itself and the stakes are made clear. I have one small comment which is this:

    I’m not quite sure why the trees want Ellie’s geek flag to fly, unless it’s implied that her science-smarts will translate into some kind of knowledge that will help the trees – or is it just that being a science-geek makes her more prone to want to explore the trees in the first place?

    Otherwise, good job! and good luck!


  2. This sentence feels a bit run-on-y. “But when Ellie discovers Arborites, elf-like beings born from the seed of a tree, living in the woods behind her house, they actually want her geek-flag to fly.” Why do they want her “geek flag to fly?” Other than that it looks good.


  3. Ha you made me laugh out loud with your geek flag flying sentence! I do agree it’s a bit long and needs clarification but I still loved it! This is overall polished and feels effortless. Stakes, setting, characters, and voice are all crystal clear. Well done! Thanks for joining and good luck!


  4. Oooh I likey! Nice letter, good writing. I’d let the geek flag fly, but break down the sentence into two. It’s not too complicated, I could see everything you said, so it is visual and I love the premise! Good job. Good luck.


  5. What a fun idea! I love it. I agree with the others about the geek flag — I LOVE the geek flag thing, but shorten the sentence somehow. Also I would get rid of “seem to” in the first paragraph, and “that” in the rumor sentence.

    Good luck at Query Kombat!!!!


  6. Amazing job with the query. I’d like to see a tiny bit more detail on how she can help them – maybe that ties into the geek-flag part? Your first 250 are great too. The only super-nitpicky thing I stumbled over was this sentence: “Ellie looked like she had inhaled a wasp.” I felt like the rest was closer to her POV and this sentence was more omniscient. Best of luck in the contest!


  7. I like your query, but as Laura says, any detail you can add will go a long way. It took a couple runs through the sentence “But when Ellie discovers Arborites, elf-like beings born from the seed of a tree, living in the woods behind her house, they actually want her geek-flag to fly.” But I got it! You might want to see if you can make this clearer, but it’s pretty cute! Good luck and great job!


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