Wednesday, September 16, 2015

"The Summer Experiment"

Cathie Pelletier's novels include The Funeral Makers (a NYTBR Notable Book), The Weight of Winter (winner of the New England Book Award) and Running the Bulls (winner of the Paterson Prize for Fiction).

She applied the Page 69 Test to The Summer Experiment, her first middle grade novel, and reported the following:
Roberta McKinnon, age 11, is a science nerd and big dreamer. She likes to add to this resume, "And guess what? I'm blonde!" She and her best friend, Marilee Evans, are trying to figure out how to beat the impossibly brilliant Henry Horton Harris Helmsby---the 4 Hs of the Apocalpyse---at the upcoming science fair. Allagash, Maine, their little hometown, is famous for something called "The Allagash Abductions," when four men from Vermont claimed to have been taken aboard a spaceship while on a trip down the Allagash River. Robbie McKinnon puts her brain to good work and comes up with a solution. "If aliens visited here before, they might again. What if we try to contact them, interview them, and win science fair in the process?" But standing in the way is her annoying big brother Johnny, and his best friend, Billy, on whom Robbie has her first crush. After a mean trick played on the girls (it all had to do with fake aliens appearing at Frog Pond) Robbie decides revenge is in the air. Page 69 begins a chapter following Robbie and Marilee doing a rehearsal of the plan, just so they are prepared. It'll serve Johnny and Billy right. But this means they have to drive their 4-wheelers up on Peterson's Mountain after sundown. Everyone knows the mountain is haunted by the ghost of Cally Peterson. It's while up on the mountain that two important things happen. First, Marilee confesses how hurt she is over her parents getting divorced. And then the girls see the strange lights in the sky that all the town have been spotting. "This time it isn't your crazy brother," says Marilee. Page 69 opens the next morning following all that excitement. A summer rainstorm is bearing down on the little town and Robbie wakes up thinking of those weird lights, and how perfect "Roberta's Revenge" will be once she sets the wheels in motion.
Visit Cathie Pelletier's website.

--Marshal Zeringue