Each week I’m sharing stories written during our NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program which we had in November 2020. We will be doing the program again this November; stay tuned!

This week we have stories by Elijah and Layla!





Elijah’s novel Zura is set in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, and draws upon Brazilian folklore much the way the Rick Riordan Presents books draw on mythology and folklore from diverse cultures. It opens right in the midst of the action, with the main character being chased by a jaguar, and finding out his Avó (grandpa) has magic abilities. I think it’d be a great read for fans of Tracey BaptisteSayantani DasGupta, and Kwame Mbalia.


Excerpt from Zura:


“Stop! NO! Leave me alone.”

I was running for my life. I shouldn’t be running for my life at the age of five, but I am running for my life. In a jungle. I was running to find a way out of this cruel attempt to kill me. I was about to be eaten by jaguar.

It was all my fault too. My dad said never to go in the forest. For no reason. I didn’t know why until today. I was a fast runner, but I was about to get eaten either way. The jaguar was a way faster runner than I was. The gold fur and the black dots were just too much. I wanted to see a jaguar up close but this was too much.

When I got back to reality it was too late. I fell attempting to jump over a branch and landed right on my butt instead of my feet.

My last hope was something I thought wouldn’t happen. My last hope was to call one person who would help me. That was my Avó.

Check out these readalikes for Elijah’s story!

















Layla’s novel Girl on the Run is historical fiction set in a time of corsets, chores and other constraints, and zero opportunities for women. Her main character, Silk Berry, feels stifled and is completely dismissed by her father as a “useless” girl. But when her brother goes missing, she longs to prove that she can be useful, that she can even brave unknown dangers to find him. I think this would be a great read for fans of mysteries and historical fiction by authors like Avi and Amy Timberlake.

Excerpt from Girl on the Run:


The room was still silent. I tried to breathe, but even that disturbed the silence. I did not know what to do. Father finally breathed in and says in a whisper: Go to your room now, Silk.

I tuck in my chair and ran, yes, RAN, to my room. I closed the door and laid on my bed. Even though I was in trouble, I felt satisfied with myself. As if a tree was lifted off my shoulders. I still might convince my father to let me go and find John.

I stay in my room for a time until Father opens the door.

Silk Berry, come out, he says.

I walk slowly down the stairs into the dining room. The room was still silent. Father sits down and frowns seriously.

Silk. He said. Silk, Silk, Silk. You cannot go to find John.

I look down. Why? I whisper.

Father stares at me angrily. BECAUSE, SILK, he says.

It was clear he did not want me to ask more questions. He stares at me harder and says, BECAUSE YOU’RE A GIRL, SILK! BECAUSE YOU’RE WEAK AND USELESS!

There was a quick silence. I sighed. I breathed in and out and then say, Yeah, right. I get to do the same things you do, and if you want me to prove it, put me in trousers. Send me up the mountain. Make me hunt. I said.

Yes reader, I, Silk Berry, SAID THAT.


Check out these readalikes for Layla’s story!