Sunday, September 16, 2012

CAGI Finalist #4

Genre: Contemporary Middle Grade
Word Count: 44,000


Eleven-year-old Isaac Sanchez has never belonged anywhere or mattered to anyone. But he’s only a little bitter—like dark chocolate, not like dish soap. Mostly he’s just lonely and lost. When the mom who abandoned him as a baby comes back and asks for another chance, Isaac struggles to adapt to a whole new life with a whole new family.

Then Isaac receives his father’s old copy of Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica and discovers that he has more in common with the greatest scientist in history than just first names: a dead dad he never knew (check), a deadbeat mom he doesn't remember (check), and a crummy history of being the smallest, most picked-on kid in the neighborhood (check and check). All of the things that made him feel insignificant now convince Isaac that, like Newton, he is destined to become super rich, rock-star famous, and one of the greatest geniuses of all time.

Isaac decides to follow in Newton’s footsteps. He gets pet mice, wears red every day, shuns his new family, tries to spook the neighbors by flying glowing kites after dark, and uses Newton's favorite fruit (apples, of course) for a projectile experiment that goes horribly wrong. He even solves the secret code his dad wrote in the margins of Principia. But his most surprising discovery of all is that he may be able to forgive his mom and care about his sisters, and they might care about him too. When Isaac's scientific pursuits cause a life-threatening accident, he must decide whether his "destiny" is worth the price.

DISCOVERING ISAAC contains sneaky bits of physics, history, and biology and was recently awarded the Utah Arts Council's 2012 Juvenile Book prize. My previous publications include pieces in the children's magazines Friend and New Era. I am also the lead author of several scientific papers in some of the nation’s top chemistry journals, which are every bit as riveting as you’d imagine. I currently teach chemistry at Southern Utah University and am a member of SCBWI.

First 250:

Isaac Newton: “For the natural days are truly unequal, though they are commonly considered as equal, and used for a measure of time…”

Isaac Sanchez: Every day has 24 hours, but that doesn’t mean they’re equal. Some days, it seems like about 24 hours too many.

It all started with baseball.

I hated baseball.

I would’ve rather yanked out my own nose hairs one by one in front of the whole sixth grade wearing only yesterday’s underwear than play a baseball game. But every year, Grandma made me play. The worst thing about torture is that it’s not optional.
So there I was, ten minutes before the first pitch of the season, willing to give up my whole life savings (four dollars) if I could just find my mitt. Without it, I couldn’t hide or protect even one little part of my body.
I heard Grandma calling my name from the front door. It was past time to go, and she hated to be late. I looked under all the dirty clothes littered around my room. No mitt. I heard her footsteps coming down the stairs as I chucked the shoes from my closet floor. No mitt. She opened the door without even knocking and stared down at me as I scooped an armload of my collections—my magnets, my birds’ nests, my rocks—from underneath my bed. No mitt.          
Grandma frowned at the mess.
“No mitt,” I said, holding out my empty hands. A little hope rose in my chest. “We could just skip it.”


  1. Hi #4,

    I'd love to read some more if possible. Please send your query letter, a synopsis (~1 page) and first 3 chapters to (subject line: CAGI request: DISCOVERING ISAAC). I hope to hear from you.

  2. Yes, please! If you could send the query and first few chapters (in the body of the email) to JennL at - subject line CAGI query DISCOVERING ISAAC.


  3. Love this. Six chapters attached and a synopsis to if you please!