AUTHOR: Julia Maranan

AGE CATEGORY: Middle Grade

GENRE: Mystery

WORD COUNT: 49,400 words


When fourteen-year-old aspiring chef Natalie helps family compete on a cooking reality show, she must uncover a nasty saboteur before Boston’s food truck community is ruined—even if that means risking her chance to win.


Perched on the edge of a kitchen stool, I kept a smile plastered on my face, but my fingers itched to grab the knife resting on the cutting board.

“You’re awfully quiet tonight, Natalie,” Aunt Donna said from the fridge, loading her arms with vegetables.

Uncle Rick stirred the potatoes and onions sizzling madly on the stove. “She’s probably tired from her trip, love. Let her settle in a bit.” He winked at me.

I sat on my hands and smiled wider. “Thanks for making me dinner. It smells amazing.”

And it did—especially his famous coffee-rubbed brisket—but it felt weird to be in a kitchen while cooking was happening without me. At home, I ran our kitchen.

“Are you sure I can’t help with anything? I could make the salad dressing.”

Or fry up some bacon to go with those potatoes, which would take them over the top.

But there would be no bacon this trip, even though my aunt and uncle had to realize they’d sell more on their food truck if they used pork and shellfish. Especially here in Boston, home to the best seafood I’d ever tasted. But even though they didn’t keep full kosher, those restrictions mattered to them, so I could survive with bacon-less potatoes for a few weeks.

“Don’t worry, there’ll be plenty for you to do tomorrow during lunch service.” Aunt Donna plunked the vegetables down next to the sink and came over to hug me for the zillionth time since they’d picked me up from the airport.


  1. Hi Julia,
    I have a hankering for an early morning trek to Gumdrop Pass — and I’d love to read your work when I get there! Please send a query, synopsis, and the first 50 pages (Word documents will suffice) to ssulaiman@talcottnotch.net — and don’t forget to mention #PitchMadness in your subject line. Thanks—looking forward to my read!
    Good luck,

  2. I’d love to take a look at this! You get a Gumdrop Pass!
    Please Query + 1st 50 pages attached as a word document to: rena (at) thedeborahharrisagency (dot) com

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