MG Magical Realism / Horror
MARY POPPINS meets THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, in a Middle Grade novel NANNY MORTO (25,000 words).
Only Eva and Phillip see the new nanny as a freaky skeleton - smooth skull for a face, bony fingers under the velvet gloves. Forget the park and playgrounds! Trips to the cemetery and visiting antique stores to collect seemingly random items become their new routine. Even so, the children slowly warm up to their peculiar caretaker.
However, Nanny Morto holds a secret. She is here to earn her death angel wings and requires a few items in order to complete this task, including a soul of a child. Nanny Morto must choose one of the siblings, and at the end of the summer - she does.
The final result is a spooky, but not quite as grim as it sounds, novel. I envision this story highly illustrated, much like THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET.
The first page (250 words):
A clean chalk-white skull grinned at Phillip from underneath a black velvet hat adorned with a golden broche. A large beaded purse sat on the floor.
The new nanny finished the interview with Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. She answered the questions satisfactorily, provided impeccable references, and was offered the position on the spot. When the parents inquired what the children should call her, she removed her gloves, revealing skinless bony hands, and replied, “Nanny Morto.”
Phillip wasn’t the skittish type, but when the hard white finger-bones stretched out to shake his hand, he paused.
“Mom?” His raised eyebrows and wide-eyed expression should have counted for something, but Mrs. Bennet did not understand her son’s hesitation. Unlike Phillip, all she saw was an elegant young woman qualified enough to care for her two children on a last minute notice. And so Mrs. Bennet frowned and nodded with meaning, prompting her ten-year old to take the bony fingers of their new nanny and shake.
“Pleased to meet you, Phillip,” Nanny Morto said as soon as their hands met. Her velvety voice matched her hat.
The bones gripped Phillip’s hand, and moved it up and down. The boy withdrew as soon as good manners allowed. He retreated behind the yellow sofa, mumbling, “Nice to meet you,” and rubbing his hands as if they were cold. Soon after, Phillip disappeared into the kitchen, but he continued to spy on the adults from the doorway, curiosity and the sense of imminent adventure rising in his veins.