Here's my 2nd revision. The pitch itself is 169 words, and the query is 239 words. Thank you, smithgirl, for your excellent critique! I'd be happy to return the favor to anyone who critiques this revision!
Lara’s family is crippled by medical bills—her uninsured father falls into a coma and her brother is burned, from separate accidents. Lara blames herself, but could help everyone if she just finds that $18 million Fabergé egg concealed in the over-cluttered house of her grandmother Baba, a compulsive hoarder.
Fifteen-year-old Lara Abbey Hunter, nicknamed “Honest Abe,” has OCD. Clutter unnerves her. Yet she’s an amateur cryptologist who can decipher the encrypted clues to the jeweled egg hidden by Baba’s Japanese father during WWII. So is Baba’s gentleman friend, who’s suspiciously eager to help.
Lara and her girlfriend decode clues that point to others buried under possessions that Baba refuses to disturb. Lara’s mother proposes hiring a company to declutter while Lara takes Baba out—using money she lent to their family. This deceit appalls Lara.
If they don’t, others will steal the treasure. Then Lara would lose her sole chance to redeem herself and save her family from ruin.
THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000-word YA contemporary mystery, would appeal to fans of Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, Kevin Sands’ THE BLACKTHORN KEY (both about decoding clues) and OCDANIEL by Wesley King. I’m with the SCBWI, and served six years as a provincial director with its Canadian equivalent, CANSCAIP. I’ve attended ten writing conferences, including the Big Sur Workshop. I’m one of three finalists (for another novel) in New Jersey RWA’s PYHIAB contest. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Here's my 1st revision, with the original one crossed out below. Thanks to all who critiqued it so far. I am happy to critique your query too!
Fifteen-year-old Lara is a cryptologist who craves a challenge. But she isn’t thrilled to learn that an $18 million Fabergé egg is hidden by encrypted clues within her grandmother Baba’s home. Lara is a neat freak with OCD, and Baba is a compulsive hoarder. Then Lara’s family unravels. Her uninsured father falls into a coma from an accident Lara believes she caused. Her brother is burned in their house fire while Lara babysits him. He’s flown to a burn unit in South Dakota. Their family borders on bankruptcy. To assuage her guilt, Lara vows to find the egg, convince Baba to sell it, and pay off the debts.
But Lara is thwarted by clues buried under Baba's pack-rat possessions. Soon, both the neighborhood busybody and Baba’s gentleman friend are after the ornament. It's a race to determine who will find it first. For Lara to save her broken family from ruin, she must break her moral code of honesty and deceive her guileless grandmother. Otherwise the Fabergé egg will be stolen, and Lara’s sole chance to redeem herself will be lost.
In THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000 word YA contemporary mystery, Lara’s boyfriend helps her decode clues and discover her secret Chinese grandfather. It would appeal to fans of Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, and those seeking diverse perspectives. I’m with the SCBWI, and served 6 years as a provincial director with its Canadian equivalent, CANSCAIP. I’m one of three finalists (for another novel) in New Jersey RWA’s PYHIAB contest. Thank you for your time and consideration.
In THE FABERGÉ CODE, a 59,000 word YA contemporary mystery, teenage neat freak Lara Hunter is forced to stay a month with her grandmother, a hoarder who claims that a Fabergé egg is hidden in her cluttered home.
Fifteen-year-old Lara is a self-proclaimed “Queen of Clean.” Her obsessive need to bring order out of chaos is channeled into her hobby as an amateur cryptologist. When her uninsured father falls into a coma after a car accident—which Lara believes she caused—her family teeters near bankruptcy. Her guilt magnifies when their house burns down while she babysits her brother. He’s flown to a burn unit in the next state, South Dakota. Lara’s overwhelmed mother sends her to stay with her grandmother, Baba.
Baba insists her Japanese father hid inside their house encrypted clues to a missing Fabergé egg, before their family was forced into a WWII internment camp. His secrets died with his sudden passing. Lara vows to find the priceless egg and convince Baba to sell it to pay the family’s debts. Lara decodes the first message, which points to other clues.
But Lara is stumped when clues are buried under Baba’s pack-rat possessions, which she refuses to relinquish. And soon both the neighborhood busybody and Baba’s Chinese boyfriend are after the ornament. For Lara to save her broken family from ruin, she must deceive her guileless grandmother. Otherwise the Fabergé egg will be stolen, and Lara’s sole chance to redeem herself will be lost.
Besides the hunt for the fabulous Alexander III Fabergé egg, this is the story of Lara’s investigation into her Japanese-Chinese heritage, how she copes with her obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the startling revelations about Baba’s mysterious ex-husband.
This novel would appeal to fans of Louise Gornall’s UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES, Blue Balliett’s CHASING VERMEER, and Jamie Ford’s THE HOTEL AT THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET. I belong to the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and have been with a critiquing group for sixteen years. Thank you for your consideration.